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VOL. I. 





















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Three years have passed since the appearance of the 
Mrst Series of "Peaks, Passes, and Glaciers." Its 
pubhcation was thought a bold experiment, inasmuch 
as the writers were mountain climbers and not 
experienced Authors. The success, however, was 
complete. The work evidently appealed to feelings, 
wide spread among the nation, and shared, even by 
those who had never been actors in adventures such 
as were narrated in the book. The favour witli 
which the First Series was received has encouraged 
the members of the Alpine Club again to endea- 
vour to interest a wide circle of readers. The taste 
for these adventures is becoming more extended; 
the Club has doubled the number of its members 
since the publication of their first volume, and the 
increase in the number of new ascents, new passes, 
and new adventures, involving a far Avider range of 
exploration, have rendered necessary a corresponding 
increase in the number of the narratives. Thirty- 
two, instead of seventeen, narratives, written by 
twenty-three, instead of sixteen writers, is the result. 




The work begins with an account of an extensive 
tour in Iceland, by Messrs. Holland and Shepherd, 
in districts, a large portion of which has been 
visited by no Enghshman except Henderson (whose 
journey took place fifty years ago), since whom no 
stranger has traversed them, except some French 
travellers, under M. Gaimard, about twenty-five years 
acTO. It is hoped that Mr. Holland's narrative of this 
expedition, will incite other members of the Club, 
still further to explore the unknown districts, to , 
which the Vice-President last year directed atten- 
tion, and that the blank in the map of Iceland may 
speedily be filled up. It is remarkable, that all the 
travellers who last year visited Iceland wish to 
return there, and, indeed, before these pages meet 
the eye of the pubhc, Mr. Shepherd, accompanied 
by two friends, will again be on his way to Iceland, 
with the intention of making a much more ex- 
tensive exploration of that interesting island. 

These volumes contain no less than nine accounts 
of ascents of mountains never before ascended, 
and most of which were deemed inaccessible. The 
Shreckhorn, an attempted ascent of which, by 
Mr. Anderson, was recorded in the previous volume, 
was scaled by Mr. Stephen ; the Aletschhom yielded 
to Mr. Tuckett, after a persevering attempt, begun 
under most unpromising circumstances ; andtheLys- 
kamm was ascended by Mr. Hardy, accompanied by 



seven other mountaineers, in addition to the guides. 
It seems that this last ascent may now, under favour- 
able circumstances, be considered one of the usual 
first-class excursions from Zermatt, inasftiuch as the 
difficulty of the ascent is not excessive, the view 
from the summit is scarcely inferior to that from 
Monte Eosa, and the glacier scenery equals that 
of any of the most formidable expeditions. The 
Grivola, Mr. King's description of which excited 
so much curiosity, was climbed by Mr. Ormsby ; 
and its neighbour, the Grand Paradis, was ascended 
by Mr. Cowell, who recommends it as the finest and 
most feasible initiation into the glories of Alpine 
altitudes that can be undertaken by the moun- 
taineering tyro. The Nord End, the only pre- 
viously unreached summit of the Monte Eosa chain, 
has been ascended by Sir T. Powell Buxton 
and his brother. The Thierberg, near the Susten 
Pass, a mountain of no great difficulty, but yet never 
before ascended, was climbed by Mr. Forster, and 
may be recommended as a mountain commanding 
magnificent views of glacier scenery. 

There now remain to be noticed, the ascents 
of three mountains in districts not comprehended 
within the usual range of Swiss tourists. These 
are, Mont Pelvoux, in Dauphine; Monte Viso, in 
Sardinia ; and the Bernina,^ in the Ober-Engadin. 
No little perseverance and skill were required to 



™ount the difficulties of these mountain. Some 
of the inconveniences experienced by Mr. Whymper, 
in his ascent of the Pelvoux, may probably be 
avoided by profiting by his experience ; but, until 
Dauphine'has become a more constant resort of 
tourists, the inconveniences arising from bad guides 
and execrable inns, will render the exploration of its 
mountains a matter of far greater difficulty than the 
usual Swiss chmbing. Monte Yiso has long attracted 
the admiration of visitors to Turin -it was felt that 
it would command a magnificent view, but it was 
deemed inaccessible - and Mr. Mathews' account of 
his successful ascent mil therefore, it is believed, 
be read with much interest. The Bernina had been 
ascended by Ilerr Coaz, and by Herr Saratz, the 
President of the Ober-Engadin, but by no other 
person, except his guides. The ascent of this 
momitain by Mr. Hardy and myself, was therefore 
considered in the district as an event of great moment, 
and, as will be seen in the narrative, was celebrated 
by the inhabitants in an appropriate manner. The 
Matterhorn is now nearly the only remaining giant 
in the great central mass of the Alps, who still re- 
mains unconquered, and it is hoped that, this summer, 

he too may yield. 

Ten new passes are described in these volumes, 
which will be found of much practical utility and 
interest, in enabling mountaineers to explore many 



magnificent districts previously unknown, and to 
pass from one to another over glorious scenery 
hitherto unvisited. 

The High-Level Glacier Eoute, wholly avoiding 
the ordinary roads, either by Aosta, or Martigny, 
and embracing seven of these new passes, connects 
the two centres of attraction, Mont Blanc and Monte 

The Col de Lys and the Col des Jumeaux afford 
new routes from the Zermatt district to the Italian 
valleys on the south of the Monte Eosa range, and 
the Eiger Joch connects the Wengem Alp with the 
Ehone Valley by the Aletsch Glacier. 

The papers of Messrs. Mathews and Tuckett on 
the Graian Alps give, it is believed, a tolerably com- 
plete account of that little known district, and correct 
some important topographical errors in its received 
geography. Mr. Mathews has accompKshed the de- 
struction of a mountain, which has existed (in maps 
only) for about fifty years. Mont Iseran, a name 
which on the Sardinian maps has hitherto repre- 
sented the culminating point of the Tarentaise, must 
be expunged from all maps, since its non-existence 
as a mountain peak is now completely proved. 

A short notice is given of the various instruments 
used in the practice of Hypsometry, and of the me- 
thods adopted in carrying out this important brancli 
of natural philosophy, and the result of some shght 

fi ». 




„ fflfloial Dirt Bands, and the 
observations upon Glacial vn ^ 

,. -1 .• /^f fiyone IS offered more oy 
iinpnual distnbution ot Uzone, 

IT of suggestion to future observers than as an 
explanation of the subject. ^f TTplahts 

The work concludes with a Table of Heights, 
.hich h. been compiled .^th great care, and,^t is 
believed, with tolerable accuracy. So far as 
Inds, this Table, it is hoped, will be found a n^^^^^^^ 

complete Ust than is elsewhere to be met with of 
the principal Swiss and Pyrenean " Peaks, Passes, and 

Glaciers." , 

The Maps have been taken from existing authorities 

as far as possible ; but where these are erroneous, 
the necessary corrections have been introduced rom 
observations made by the traveUer. They have 
been engraved by Mr. Edward WeUer. 

The illustrations are principally from sketches 
made by the writers themselves, and, when desirable, 
the routes are inchoated by dotted lines. Fifty-three 
have been engraved under the superintendence of 
Mr. Edward Whymper, and three under that of Mr. 

George Pearson. 






-» o « 











1 1 


Maipenhfat) : April 1862. 

YOL. I. 










By E. T. Holland, B.A. 

1. Fbom Scotland to Reykja-Vik, and thence to Raudnef-Stade . . 8 

2. Feom Raudnef-Stadk aceoss the less frequented Disteicts on the 

W. of the Skaptar Jokull to Maeiu-Bakki 18 

3. Passage of the Skeidara.— The Oe(Epa Jokull.- South of the 

Vatna Jokull to Beeu-Fjoede 29 

4. Feom Beru-Fjordr, by way of Beu, My-vatn, and Suets-Hellie, 

BACK TO Reykja-Vik . . gi 



Glaciee and Col di Sceesen ; Toue of the Beenina. By Arthur 
Milman, M.A, . ^31 

2. Ascent of the Pizzo Beenina. By Edward Shirley KeniKHly, M.A. . 146 




1. The Passages of the Glaciee du Toue and of the Col de Miage. 

By J. G. Dodson, M.P igg 

2. Nabeativb of the Accident on the Col de Miage in July I86I. 

By the Rev. Charles Hudson, M.A * . . . 2O8 







. 227 

., uv Vredcrick William Jacomb . • • 
1. Introductory 11EMARK«. i^y ,,^,^ ^o St. Pierre. By Stephen 


''"o;..0. ..OM ST.'PIERRE TO TH. TOP 0. THE CO. By ^^^ 

3 Tub Col DB Siomdos m" 

Frederick Wiffiam Jaoomb . • ' (,„^„o,xisB. By 

,.„.Co.».So...o..BO»™.ToPO,XHBCo.xoCn . ,, 

T ": S.^-!". - O. .HB CO. XOV..B....- ^^^ 
5. THE COL DU SO^APON j^^^^^^ • • • ' . o^ 

Prerayex. ByFreacncK ^.,,«v to xVbolla. By Sir T. 


Fowell Buxton, Bart. M.A. • • ^^^^ to Pberayen. 

, THECO.I>E..RE.SBX,E.'AROL...BO.CHERMO.X.^. . . . . 287 

By F. P. Tuckett, F.R.G.S. • • ^ ^^ „p^^^„. By Frederick 

S. THE CO. .E .. V..rE.U.E PRO. PKERXYE. to ZERM.TT y ^^ 

Wrilliara Jacorab 



novTTTTORN By Edward Schweitzer . • 


TheColdeLys. By William Mathews, Jun.,M.A. . ^ • 

..«TTBKAM3i. By John Frederick Hardy, B.D. . 

1 TWF \3CENT OP THE LYSKAMai. x.jr , ,, A 

T.MKvrx By William Mathews, Jun.,M.A. . • 
4. Ttiv Col DE3 .luMEvrx. dj' " » 

4. THE COL ,, ^^E^p By Edward N. Buxton . • 

5. thbA9CESTOPTHE>ordEsd. »y 



» . T,c Kv William Brinton, M.D. • • • " 
1 The GER31AS Alps. Bywunaiu^ ^ • .^„ m T) 

/^ -.aaPTorKNEB By WUliam Bnnton, M.U 




, 383 

. 397 

. 412 

. 429 





1. South-Eastern part of Iceland (f/ott6?^') to face page 3 

2. Tlic Pizzo Bcrnina „ 131 

3. The District between Mont Blanc and the Col du Bonhomme „ 189 

4. The High Level Route from Chamounix to Zermatt . . „ 227 

5. „ M • • M 2/3 
C. „ t, , , „ 306 

7. The Monte Rosa District {double) „ 343 

8. The Gross Glockner and its vicinity {double) .... „ 425 

. \\ OODCUTS. 


1. Icicle Crevasse, from a sketch by E. S. Kennedy . . Frontispiece. 

2. The Raud-holt, Iceland, from a sketch by E. T. Holland .... 27 

3. The Oroefa JokuU, Iceland, from the plateau above Knappa-vellir, from a 

sketch by E. T. Holland 50 

4. The Oroefa Jokull, from Reyni-vellir, from a sketch by E. T. Holland . . 67 

5. The Kl^fr at Bru, Iceland, from a sketch by E. T. Holland .... 86 

6. Herdu-breid, from Krabla, Iceland, from a sketch by E. T. Holland . . 96 

7. Hver-fjall, from a sketch by E. T. Holland 102 

8. The Lava-field of Surts-Hellir, from a sketch by Capt. C. Campbell . . 110 

9. Entrance to the Second Portion of Surts-Hellir, from a sketch by Capt. 

C.Campbell Ui 

10. The Lang Jokull, Iceland, from a sketch by Capt. C. Campbell . to face 115 

11. View from Boval, looking South, from a sketch by E. S. Kennedy . . 15& 










„.U.,e.Ue.,..>orU.C„.aeMia..,U.K.K.™ . • • ■ ^ 

CO, a. So„aa„„, rrou. . » U. F. W, Ja on>b ^ • • ; ^ 

.-. t- tVio Tinrd from a skeicu uj r- ^'.""^ 

Natural Pillars on the Gorge ..t the Uard, 

„^ or the Va.pem„e, r,.» a sketch b. Ed«a«. my»pe. ^ • • 

The Matterho™, fro™ .he Co, de la De„t Blanche, fro. a sUtch by F. F. ^^ 

Tuckett .•••■*■* , ^ 1 1 ,. 1.^ V 

* t f v.« *itfvckhi from a sketch bj r. i*- 
ThcMatterhorn.fromthesmmuitof theSto(.kUi,ir ^^^ 

Tmkett .••••''*' . . ...^ 

TheL.U.„.M..m«vc».nc..t.acan,.V.,n,askc.chhy^V.Mathe.vM«». -^ 

The L;»ka,«„,.fro,n.hcGor„er..«t, from aphot„K,a.U . • <-/- •' 

Mo„tcK«sa,frou,theGor„cr*n..,rro,naph„t.«r.„h. . •'"■'^- 

The Gross Glock„cr.fn,.n a sketch by William Brm.o„.M.D. ' ' " ^ 

The Chamois, from a »ketch by William Hrinton,M.D 


Map of "tlie 


I C E L A N D 

10 20 30 

lalaitdic MilfS 



—I »- 







London,; Lorufman Se Co. 



I C E L A N D 

MT EoUtindXi Moute, 

English Mile* 

1 -vO V- 

lO 20 30 

lalandic Mili-s 







'Yaxna Jdlroll >k^ 




London.; LorufmoTV Se Cc. 


^m ' 







By E. T. Holland, B.A. 



The screw steamer Arctunis, carrying the English and 
Danish mails, makes five or six voyages every year between 
Copenhagen and Eeykja-vik, the capital of Iceland. On 
her way she touches at Grangemouth in the Firth of Forth; 
and at that place I, in company with my friends Messrs. 
Bond, Donaldson, and Shepherd, embarked on board of her 
on Thursday, the 18th July, 1861. The same evening she 
weighed anchor, and we started for Iceland. 

On the morning of Sunday, the 21st, we reached 
Thorshaven, the chief town of Strom-oe, the largest of the 
Far-oes ; and on the 22nd, the daylight of a northern mid- 
night found us nearly out of sight of these islands, steering 
a N.W. course. On the morning of the 24th we sighted the 
white summit of the Oroefa Jokull, gleaming in the sun, 
and though some sixty miles away, looking not one half 
that distance from us. Then, as we steamed along, the 
round tops of the Myrdals, and Eya-fjalla Jokulls came 
into view. As we neared the coast, we came abreast of an 
extensive flat spit of volcanic sand, thrown out for several 

B 2 



xniles into the sea by the Kotlu-gja during it. recent 
eruption in 1860. Beyond this we pa^ed withm a mile 
or two of the fine natural arch at Portland Head ; and in 
the afternoon, the weather being very calm, steamed 
through the rocky group of Westmann Islands, and 
dropped the mails (consisting of two or three letters and 
a newspaper) into a boat, which put out for them from 
Heima-ey, the largest of the group. Early the next 
morning we were off the low lava rocks of Cape Reykja-nes, 
battling with a heavy head-wind; and about 2 p.m. on 
that day we ca^t anchor in the Bay of Reykja-vik, under 
the lee of the Esja mountains. Not far from us two 
French men-of-war were lying at anchor. They had come 
to look after the French fishermen, who, every year, resort 
to the Icelandic fishing-grounds in great numbers. 

We had plenty to do the next day in making the 
necessary preparations for our journey into the country. 
Guides had to be engaged, ponies to be bought and shod, 
and saddles to be procured, some on hire, and some by 
purchase, and when procured to be patched, and mended, 
and stuffed. Bridles, halters, girths, hobbles, had to be 
obtained ; and not lea^t, though last, Icelandic travelling- 
boxes. These are small, but awkward and weighty wooden 
chests, which are used by the people of Iceland for carrying 
their luggage when they are traveUing, and which, when 
they are tt home, ordinarily serve the double purpose of 
family wardrobes and seats. A baggage-horse carries a 
pair of these boxes, one slung on each side of him, 
suspended by nooses of rope, or iron rings, to two cum- 
brous wooden straddles, or bearers, that arch over his back ; 
these straddles form the most important part of an 
Icelandic saddle. The rest of it consists* merely of two 
large flat pads, which serve to protect the horse's flanks 
from being rubbed by the straddles or his load. In the 


common saddles these pads are made of two or three 
thick layers of turf, kept in their proper place only by the 
grip of the straddles and the girths ; in the better kinds 
they are made of leather, stuffed with either hair or 
grass. So long as these saddles are in use, the Icelandic 
boxes, cumbersome and inconvenient as they are, are the 
only contrivances that can withstand the wear and tear of 
an Icelandic journey. 

Our preparations were not all completed until the after- 
noon of the next day (July 27th), but at 3 p.m. on that 
day we effected a start for Thing-vellir. We had with us 
two guides, and our cavalcade, which consisted of no less 
than seventeen horses, must have had rather an imposing 
appearance in the eyes of the small boys, who watched us 
as we rode out of the town. 

The country between Reykja-vik and the Geysirs, and 
indeed the whole of that district which lies to the south- 
west of Hekla, has been so often described by travellers 
that I shall only take a passing glance at it, and refer those 
who wish to know more about it to the descriptions given 
by Henderson, Lord Dufferin, Captain Forbes, and others. 

The first part of the road to Thing-vellir, after leaving 
the stony ground and turf bogs that surround Reykja-vik 
on the inland side, is pretty. On the north, you see the 
bold Esja mountains, looking blue in the distance — and 
the colouring of an Icelandic distance is remarkably soft 
and liquid — below them, and nearer to you, lie the bright 
island-spangled bays and coves of Faxa-:Qordr, of which 
you get many a passing glimpse ; while towards the south 
a broad stretch of moorland is bounded by the serrated 
ridge of hills, which extends from Hengil, near Thing- valla 
Vatn (the lake of Thing-valla), to the Krisu-vik district. 
As you leave these scenes behind, the road skirts the shores 
of one or two small lakes ; near which are several scattered 



farms, with their gra^s green tuns (enclosures); but after 
a few hours' ride, you pass the last of these, and find 
yourself upon Mosfells-heidi,-a dreary stretch of moorland 
and stony waste,-which only affords enough gra^s to serve 
as a poor sheep-run for the neighbouring farms. The heidi 
(a word which is used, not so much to designate a heath, 
as an upland with scanty pasturage, or altogether barren,) 
rises for several miles in a gradual ascent towards the east. 
Then Bs you approach Thing-valla Vatn, it falls rather ab- 
ruptly, until you reach a level field of lava, which extends 
along the shores of the lake. On the northern side of this 
lake°a vast portion of the lava field has, in some former 
age, given way, and sunk bodily towards the lake,, forming 
the celebrated Thing-vellir (Valley of Assembly). In this 
valley, for several hundred years before the first part of 
this century, the Icelandic Althing, or ParUament, used to 
meet in the open air, not only as a deliberative, but also 
an executive, assembly. For this reason greater historical 
interest attaches to Thing-vellir than to any other place in 
the island. Here it was, that the laws of the Icelanders, 
whilst yet a free people, were made and executed; here, that 
justice was administered, and punishments inflicted ; and 
here too, centuries ago, it was enacted that Iceland should 
be no more a pagan, but a Christian, country. The valley 
is about five miles long by four or five miles broad : it is 
bounded on each side by a long deep rift or gjd in the 
lava, marking the line of separation, where in its subsidence 
the lower plain split away from the lava fields above it. 
The whole of the valley sank down en masse^ and now lies 
at a level of more than a hundred feet lower than the sur- 
rounding plain. The reason of this sudden subsidence is, 
I believe, still a disputed question amongst geologists. 
Some attribute it to a fresh flow of lava over the surface of 
a more ancient and cavernous lava field, having by its 


weight caused the first lava surface to sink from its original 
elevation. Others assert (with, as it seems to me, greater 
probability of truth) that there has been only one flow of 
lava, and that the subsidence was caused by the exposed 
crust having cooled and hardened before the depths below 
became solidified, and whilst the liquid stream beneath 
continued to flow on : the surface lava having thus lost its 
support, cracked and fell in, as we see ice do, when the 
water beneath has ceased to support it. 

The track from Eeykja-vik leads down into the most 
westerly and largest of these rifts, the Almanna-gj^ (All- 
mans-rift), by a steep rocky defile which opens suddenly 
in the road. This we reached about 1.30 a.m., and de- 
scending it, rode for a few minutes along the flat grassy 
bottom of the Almanna-gj^, between high precipitous walls 
of lava, until we came to a breach in the wall on our 
right. Through this we passed, and riding down a green 
slope found ourselves at once on the banks of the river 
Oxera, near to the north-west corner of Thing-valla Vatn. 
Here, after unloading our horses, and turning them loose 
to graze, we pitched our tent ; and were soon in a happy 
state of unconsciousness of the chilling storm of wind and 
rain without, which for the last few hours had made our 
ride very uncomfortable. 

August 2Sth.—We obtained supplies of butter and milk 
for breakfast from the priest, whose house stood near the 
Church, on the east bank of the river, opposite to our camp. 
At this place two of the three great highways to the 
north are united, and his reverence keeps a sort of hostelry, 
which must considerably add to his annual stipend. The 
clergymen of Iceland are seldom rich. They receive a 
small amount every year from tithes ; but the chief part of 
their income is derived from the produce of the farms at- 

tached to their livings, which in most ca^es brings them 
in a very poor pittance. 

The Althing (Place of Assembly), the spot where the 
national assembly used to meet, is not more than a few 
hundred yards from the Church: it is merely a grassy 
peninsula of somewhat rising ground in the lava plaan 
which surrounds it; from this plain it is cut off on every 
side, except the south, by deep chasms in the lava, of un- 
known depth, their bottoms full of clear still blue water. 
On the south, the Althing is connected with the sur- 
rounding plain by a narrow causeway, which lies -be- 
tween two of these chasms. It was a noble meeting- 
place for the parliament of a free people : close at hand 
lay that once molten lava stream, gashed by those awful 
chasms, imparting a character of stern savageness to the 
scene, and calUng forth all the severe and unyielding 
energies of the lawgivers ; while the blue hills at the head 
of th^'e valley and the island-studded lake at its foot, shed 
over it a calm and gentle softness, humanising the hearts 
and appealing to the pity of the assembled multitudes. 

After having explored the classic ground of Thing- 
vellir and the Oxera, we proceeded in the afternoon to 
Laugar-dalr (Hot-spring-dale). Crossing the plain of 
Thincr-vellir, which is transected by numerous longitu- 
dinal crevasses in the lava, and covered in almost every 
part with low brushwood of birch and dwarf-willow, and 
plants of bla-berry and lyng-berry, we reached, after some 
four miles' ride, the Hrafna-gj^ (Raven's-rift). This, like its 
sister-rift, the Almanna-gja, forms a conspicuous object 
from every part of the plain, looking in the distance like 
a long dark line drawn across it. It is neither so deep 
nor so regular as the Almanna-gjd, but its higher side, 
although not a precipitous wall, was yet steep enough to 
oblige us to dismount and lead our horses up it. After 


leaving Thing-vellir, our road lay for the rest of the day 
beneath a high range of tuff mountains that rose steeply 
on our left. The route, for the most part, was over a 
mere desert of scoriae and blocks of tuff, until we came 
into sight of the lake of Laugar-dak, lying in the middle 
of an extensive flat plain, which appears to be very fertile. 
From the surface of the lake, three or four columns of 
steam, indicating the presence of hot-springs, rose high 
and straight into the clear air. 

July 29th. — We reached the Greysirs at 3.30 p.m., 
having left Laugar-dalr at 10 a.m. On our way we rode 
across several large flat plains, covered with an abundaDce 
of grass for the cattle and sheep of the neighbouring 
farms. At times the track across these plains was so 
deeply worn, that the surface of the ground on each side 
was level with our knees. These tracks are made by 
the horses always following one another in the same 
path, and are deepened by the winter rain and snow. I 
have seen them as deep as the top of a horse's shoulder. 

About half-way between Thing-vellir and the Greysirs we 
crossed the Bruara (Bridge Eiver). The bridge, which 
gives its name to the river, is of rather a remarkable kind, 
consisting merely of a few light boards, thrown midstream 
across a rocky chasm, down which flashes an impetuous 
cascade. To reach the bridge, you have to ford the stream 
to within a few yards of the fall across which it is thrown ; 
from it, you have again to ford the river to its bank. The 
Geysirs (and there is quite a nest of them, large and small, 
together,) are situate at the foot of low clay hills on the 
north-west side of an extensive grassy plain. We pitched 
our tent on a grass-plot, which bore evident marks of 
being a favourite camping-place, close beneath the raised 
basin of the Great Geysir. We had scarcely done so, and 
put our pot of ptarmigan and plover to boil in a still hot- 





sprin. a few yards off, when the Geysir began booming, 
Jith Lt sonnd, Hke a heavy cannonade heaxd at a distance 
which always preludes an eruption. Of course we all 
rushed to the basin at once, thinking that an eruption wa. 
about to take place immediately; but the water only 
boiled up vehemently in the centre of the for a few 
xninutes,andthen became quiet again. Soweleftthe Great 
Geysir to repose for a time ; and while waiting for a repe i- 
tion of his spasms we amused ourselves by giving Strokr 
(the Churn) an emetic in the shape of a few turf pills,-- 
a treatment under which this fountain can generally be 
made to erupt. It wa^ lucky that we had not, like a 
recent Icelandic traveller, trusted our dinner to its punc- 
tuality in throwing it up again; for the fountain was 
evidently sulky to-day, and though it boiled and churned 
the sods in its pipe, which wa^ half full of water, it 
steadily refused to part with them. 

The Great Geysir, however, kept us in a constant state , 
of alarm by frequently boiling over: the ebullitions gene- 
rally lasted from five to ten minutes and then subsided; 
but at length, about half-past 8 o'clock in the evemng, 
as we were all standing on the very edge of his basm, 
came several reports louder than usual. Then the water 
in the centre of the basin immediately over the pipe sud- 
denly rose to the height of three or four feet, and at once 
sank down again, but only to rise higher than before ; and 
thus it continued rising and sinking alternately, bb if 
thrown up by a succession of powerful jerks, until a thick 
column of water shot up about twenty feet, and then, 
rising higher and higher, separated itself into several 
distinct jets. These kept falling back into the basin, 
whence they were instantly thrown up again, thus pro- 
ducing a remarkably pretty effect. At length, having 
reached a height of eighty or eighty-five feet, as nearly as 

I could estimate it, the water seemed to remain stationary 
at that height for about a minute, then it sank slowly, 
and not without several severe struggles, into its basin 
again. The eruption lasted altogether iiye or six minutes, 
and we were the whole time standing on the very edge of 
the basin. This we could do with impunity, as we were 
on the windward side, and the wind had sufficient force 
to carry the spray and steam away from us. 

We stayed another day at the Geysirs, but were not 
lucky enough to see any further eruption of the Great 
Geysir, although he kept us in a state of constant 
expectation with a frequent cannonade. But by the united 
efforts of ourselves and a party of friends, Messrs. Dasent, 
Campbell, and Lennox (compagnoiis de voyage on the 
Arcturus), aided by the guides of both parties, we gave 
Strokr such a dose of sods and turf as set him to work 
to churn them and throw them up again for the greater 
part of the afternoon. The muddy state of the water, 
however, goes very far towards spoiling the effect of these 
continuous jets, which after a dose of turf always come 
up in a pea-soup coloured fountain. On the 31st July we 
left the Geysirs; and on the second day (the journey 
might be done in one day) reached Selsund, a small 
farm on the south-west side of Hekla, lying in an 
amphitheatre formed by the spurs and volcanic ridges of 
that mountain. In our journey thither we had to cross 
two large rivers, — one was the Hvita (Wliite Eiver), a 
broad glacier stream, flowing between very high banks, to 
ford which is often a matter of difficulty, owing to the 
shifting nature of the light sands which form its bottom : 
the other, the Thjors^, also a glacier river, with a deep and 
swift stream, across which we and our baggage were 
ferried in a very old and leaky boat : our horses had to 
swim over, — a piece of duty that they did not at all relish. 



and it required the joint efforts of all our party to induce 
them to face the stream. 

Sometimes when a river is very broad and swift, it is 
necessary to tie the horses all together, head to tail, in a 
Ion- string, and to make them swim after a boat, the 
bridle of the first horse being held by a man who sits 
in the stem. But this plan is accompanied with some 
danger of overturning the boat, and is therefore seldom 
resorted to : the common way is to drive the horses into 
the river, and make them swim over loose. The hay- 
harvest is going on everywhere : at every boer (Icelandic 
farm) that we pass, the whole household are out in the 
tun making hay. The women are tossing it about 
with their hands, or loading the horses with large bundles 
of it; the men are mowing, or rather shearing, with 
their straight-handled, short-knived scythes, the curious 
mounds of earth, which give to every tun the appear- 
ance of an overcrowded, unkempt graveyard. These are 
caused, the Icelanders tell you, by the wind and wet of 
their winters; but whatever may be their cause, they 
exist, to a greater or less extent, over all the grass land 
in Iceland (except in ground that is always marshy), and 
are so universal that it is often difficult to find a spot 
free from them, where a tent may be pitched with any 


The grass walls of the tuns and turf-tops of the houses, 
which produce the best grass, are everywhere already mown. 
The hay-making season begins in June, and is not over 
imtil the latter end of September. At the beginning of 
the season many of the fishermen who live upon the 
coast migrate inland, and, attaching themselves to the 
household of some farmer, live with him during the 
summer, returning home again when the hay-making is 
over. A corresponding migration of the inhabitants of 



the inland districts to the sea-coast annually takes place 
at the beginning of the fishing-season. 

August 2nd.—\YQ ascended Hekla to-day, taking as our 
guide the farmer of Selsund. He cannot have had much 
sleep last night, for he was mowing up to 1 a.m. in the 
morning, if not later. 

We left the boer at 10.35 a.m. on horseback, and, 
riding up the valley of a small clear stream, soon came to 
the rising ground at the foot of the mountain. Our 
way thence lay over hills of volcanic sand and scoriae, up 
which our poor horses had to toil with much labour, 
for in many places the ground was very steep. After a 
ride of about two hours and a half, we stopped and dis- 
mounted at the foot of a huge stream of rugged brown 
lava, which had flowed from the crater duiing the last 
eruption, in 1845. Here, on a barren tract of sand, we 
left our horses in the care of one of our Eeykja-vik 
guides, and proceeded on foot with the farmer. We first 
climbed the steep sides of the lava stream, which had 
cooled down into the most fantastic forms imaginable. It 
is hardly possible to give any idea of the general appear- 
ance of this once molten mass. Here a great crag ha^ 
toppled over into some deep crevasse,— there a huge mass 
has been upheaved above the fiery stream, which has 
seethed and boiled around its base. Here is every shape 
and figure that sculpture could design, or imagination 
picture, jumbled together in grotesque confusion, whilst 
everywhere myriads of horrid spikes, and sharp, shape- 
less irregularities bristle amidst them. From piece to 
piece of this molten ruin we had to scramble and jump ; 
and although it took us only about a quarter of an hour to 
cross it, my boots were nearly cut to pieces. After leaving 
it, we came to a tract covered with scorije and volcanic 
slag, and soon afterwards toiled up a steep ascent of vol- 



eanic sand and cinders, where the loose nature of the 
ground made the walking very laborious Half-way up 
L, we reached a steep slope of old snow, dirty and black, 
with the dust blown over it by many a summer storm,- 
sloppy and soft enough too, at this hour of the day; 
but anything was better than the ever-yielding sand. 
After traversing the snow, we toiled up slope after slope 
of sand, until we came to a ridge only two or three feet 
wide, precipitous on our left, and steeply sloping on 
our richt. Along the top of this we passed, still gra- 
dually°ascending, in the face of a strong wind, which had 
swept a cold clammy mist over the mountain-top, and hid 
all the landscape from us. We could not even see what 
was at the bottom of the precipice on our left. 

As we ascended higher we found ourselves in a storm of 
«ow and sleet, and, unfortunately, a^ we approax^hed the 
top the weather grew worse: it was so bad when we 
reached the summit (4.5 p.m.) that it was impossible for 
us to descend into the crater and explore it. We could 
only gaze over its precipitous sides at the ice which filled 
its bottom. After staying about ten minutes at the top, 
we again descended, following the tracks of our ascent; 
but it was not until we were half-way down that we 
emerged from the snow and mist Here waa the only spot 
from which we obtained a good prospect of the country 
beneath us. The view was neither grand nor beautiful, 
but it was strange and curious. At the foot of the moun- 
tain, lie lonir ridges of flat-topped hills, with sides, here 
Heep and precipitous, there in rounded slopes, but all 
perfectly l»are, though not wanting in contrast of colour. 
On the ieft rose a hill, red as one of the Grampians when 
the heather is in fullest bloom ; whilst, on our right, a 
mountain-ridge of ashy broN\Ti ran out into the grassy flats 
below, and on the green plain stood warm coloured streams 



of umber-tinted lava, here ending abruptly, as if suddenly 
cooled in their molten course,— there fading into a distant 
purple as they extended towards the sea. Flat plains of 
volcanic sand, relieved by patches of green marshes, farms, 
and homesteads, extended to the south, beyond which again 
the ocean bounded the view. 

Our descent was easy and rapid : we reached our horses 
again at 5.20 p.m., and Selsund at 7.30 p.m., quite ready 
for the pot of ptarmigan, shot during our journey on the 
previous day. 

We stayed at Selsund three days, and left it on the 5th 
August. On leaving it our party was divided : Bond and 
Donaldson returned to Eeykja-vik to catch the Arcturus 
on her homeward voyage, whilst Shepherd and I turned 
our steps eastward. Before parting with our friends we 
divided with them our horses and the rest of our travelling 
stock-in-trade, which had up to this time been the joint 
property of the whole party. Shepherd and I took nine 
out of the seventeen horses as our share, and of the two 
guides we chose Olaver Stingrimson, who, although he 
was not of quite so bright an intellect as we might have 
wished, was a good fellow, of a most willing nature and 
excellent temper. Guide, however, he could scarcely be 
called, for of the country to the east of the Greysirs he 
knew as little as ourselves. But in this respect he was 
only like the greater number of Eeykja-vik guides. There 
were four guides at the Greysirs when we were there, and 
only one of them had ever been thence to Hekla, and 
he only once, twenty-six years previously, when he had 
accompanied M. Gaimard. 

The Icelandic traveller who goes out of the beaten track 
of travel has always to engage a fylgdar-madr or local guide 
to show his guide the way. But Olaver, although he was 
of little use as a guide, proved of great use in looking 


« bomi, eeeing that they were properly hobbled at 
.l^llTon; and indeed he was almost indispensable 
2?io another way. Neither Shepherd nor I could sp^ak 
Tword of Icelandic when we set out from Reykja-vik 
Ld altl«gh Olaver did not know half a dozen words of 
^i^n we ^rted, yet a lingo of broken Icela^^ 
IjZ^ was soon established between us, which after 
rl!;?^^e he came to understand well enough; he 
L thus able to act as our interpreter. Danish I may 
,,^k, U of little use t. the traveller out of the prm- 
frowns. In these, which are mostly Danish setUe- 
JZu. it is almort universally understood. Some of the 
priests in the country, too, can speak it; but the people 
coiermlly do not understand it. , ^ , _x j 

^iLr bidding our friends adieu, Shepherd and I started 
from SeUund at 10.45 a.m. We soon left the meadow 
surrounding the farm, and entered a rugged desert which 
he* on the south side of Hekla. This desert is a sandy tract, 
full of blocks of tuff and lava, and everywhere bearing 
the trace* of the eruptions which have devastated it. As we 
rode on, the country became still more sandy. We were 
traversing a desolate wilderness, in which nothing grew 
but thin plots of melr grass {Elymm arenarius). This 
plant is a sort of wild com, which is often to be met with 
in the sandy deserts of Iceland. It seems especially to 
love the little hills of sand which have been blown up by 
the wind. The desert through which we were riding was 
lull of these hills, and on many of them were straggling 
patches of mek grass ; but these scarcely relieved the feel- 
ingB of desolation called forth by the scene around us. 

As we proceeded we from time to time caught glimpses 
of the Thri-hyrningr, (the Triangle,) a fine bold mountain 
ridge, with three dark points of rock at its top, which serve 
as a kndmark to the plains lying to the south and west^ 



Beyond the Thri-hyrningr we saw the snowy summits of 
the mountainous Tind-§alla and Eya-^alla Jokulls. 

A "Jokull" is any spot that is covered with perennial 
ice. Henderson says that the word is derived from the 
Icelandic " Jaki," a lump of ice, and that it signifies an 
ice-mountain. This is generally true, although not always 
so. Any one who imagined the vast districts laid down in 
the maps of Iceland as Jokulls to be altogether ice-moun- 
tains would be very much mistaken. The Jokulls are often 
merely immense fields of ice, which in their highest parts 
do not rise to an elevation of more than a few hundred 
feet above the level of the sea. Many of them are re- 
markably flat, extending for miles at nearly the same level. 
A great — probably the greater -— part of the vast Vatna 
Jokull, which is "supposed to fill a space of not less than 
three thousand square miles," consists of these icy plains ; 
and most of the high mountains in the island have exten- 
sive low Jokulls, or ice-plains, around their bases. These 
low Jokulls are not glaciers, though the word is often so 
translated. The number of true glaciers in Iceland is 
comparatively small. 

The general character of the ice even of the low Jokulls 
is that of neve, rather than that of glacier ice, — a circum- 
stance which is probably due to the low elevation of the 
snow-line, and to a much less amount of pressure being 
exerted upon the Jokulls than upon the glaciers. The 
absence of such pressure arises, I think, partly from 
the small elevation of the mountains, and partly from 
the beds of the ice-fields being unconfined by the sides 
of hills. WTiere their beds are so confined, and the ice 
flows down a narrow valley or a mountain gorge, there 
we find true glaciers formed. I observed glaciers descend- 
ing from many of the high mountains, 6. g. the Tind-Qalla, 
Eya-Qalla, Oroefa, Eyriks, and Bald Jokulls. Most of 

VOL. I. o 




after our horses, seeing that they were VroV^^'J^om^st 
St, and so on ; and indeed he w. almost jn^spen^b^ 
Jus in another way. Neither Shepherd nor I «^d s^^ 
a word of Icelandic when we set out from ^^J^i^J^^' 
and aUhou^h Olaver did not know half a dozen wo ds of 
Tngi when we started, yet a lingo of 1>-'^- Icd^^ 
and EnMish was soon established between us, which after 
Tshl-time he came to understand weU^-g^^ ^^ 
was thus able to act a. our interpre er. ^^^^ J ^^ 
remark is of little use to the traveller out of the prm 
rrtwns. In these, which are mostly P^sh setUe- 
ints, it is almost universally understood. So^ of tt>e 
priests in the country, too, can speak it; but the people 

ffenerallv do not understand it. , -r . «4. ^ 

^ A^rUmn, our friends adieu, Shepherd and I started 
f.ot Selsund It 10.45 .M. We soon left the ^eadow 
surrounding the farm, and entered a rugged desert whx h ^ 
lies on the south side of Hekla. This desert xs a sandy tract, 
m of blocks of tuff and lava, and everywhere bearing 
the traces of the eruptions which have devastated it As we 
rode on, the country became still more sandy. We were 
traversing a desolate wilderness, ia which nothing ^ 
but thin plots of melr gra.s {Elymv^ areTUinus). This 
plant is a sort of wild com, which is oft.n to be met with 
in the sandy deserts of Iceland. It seems especially to 
love the little hills of sand which have been blown up by 
the wind. The desert through which we were riding was 
full of these hills, and on many of them were stragghng 
patches of melr gra^s ; but these scarcely reUeved the feel- 
ings of desolation called forth by the scene around us. 

As we proceeded we from time to time caught glimpses 
of the Thri-hymingr, (the Triangle,) a fine bold mountam 
ridge, with three dark points of rock at its top, which serve 
as a landmark to the plains lying to the south and west^ 



Beyond the Thri-hymingr we saw the snowy summits of 
the mountainous Tind-fjalla and Eya-^alla Jokulls. 

A "Jokull" is any spot that is covered with perennial 
ice. Henderson says that the word is derived from the 
Icelandic " Jaki," a lump of ice, and that it signifies an 
ice-mountain. This is generally true, although not always 
so. Any one who imagined the vast districts laid down in 
the maps of Iceland as Jokulls to be altogether ice-moun- 
tains would be very much mistaken. The Jokulls are often 
merely immense fields of ice, which in their highest parts 
do not rise to an elevation of more than a few hundred 
feet above the level of the sea. Many of them are re- 
markably flat, extending for miles at nearly the same level. 
A great — probably the greater — part of the vast Yatna 
Jokull, which is " supposed to fill a space of not less than 
three thousand square miles," consists of these icy plains ; 
and most of the high mountains in the island have exten- 
sive low Jokulls, or ice-plains, around their bases. These 
low Jokulls are not glaciers, though the word is often so 
translated. The number of true glaciers in Iceland is 
comparatively smalL 

The general character of the ice even of the low Jokulls 
is that of neve, rather than that of glacier ice, — a circum- 
stance which is probably due to the low elevation of the 
snow-line, and to a much less amount of pressure being 
exerted upon the Jokulls than upon the glaciers. The 
absence of such pressure arises, I think, partly from 
the small elevation of the mountains, and partly from 
the beds of the ice-fields being unconfined by the sides 
of hills. WTiere their beds are so confined, and the ice 
flows down a narrow valley or a mountain gorge, there 
we find true glaciers formed. I observed glaciers descend- 
ing from many of the high mountains, e. g. the Tind-Qalla, 
Eya-Qalla, Oroefa, Eyriks, and B4ld Jokulls. Most of 

VOL. I. 




them came down through narrow ravines, and fell very 
precipitously into the plains. 

About 2.15 P.M. we reached the banks of Eystri Eanga, 
a small rocky stream: beyond it lay before us a fine 
undulating country, covered with grass. Near the ford 
was a farm, at which we obtained a bowl of milk,-amost 
refreshing draught after the quantity of sand that we had 
swallowed in crossing the desert. Milk can be obtained at 
almost every farm, and no payment is ever expected font. 
After crossing the river, and riding three or four miles 
along its eastern bank, we reached Raudnef-stadr, our 
resting-place for the night. 

We pitched our tent in the tun close by the house. 
When we had made our canvas home snug for the 
night, Olaver brought us from the farm a kettle of boil- 
ing water to make tea with, and we sat down to supper, 
iisLg one of our travelling-boxes as a table. Our fare, 
though simple, was as good and substantial as we could 
msh? It consisted of cold mutton, skon-rock, which is a 
sort of rusk, and unlimited supplies of milk and butter. 
These last we obtained at the farm close at hand. The 
mutton was the remains of a sheep which we had bought 
at Selsund. We had paid for it four dollars (nine shHlings), 
which, although it sounds cheap enough, is by no means a 
moderate price for an Icelandic sheep. 




August 6f^.— The farmer at this place is a well-to-do 
man, owning several hundred sheep and seventy or eighty 
horses. We were in want of two saddle-horses in addition 

to those we already possessed. Every Icelandic traveller 
must (at least on a long journey) have a second horse for 
a change. We had not been able to procure the necessary 
number of riding-horses at Eeykja-vik, and were anxious 
to supply the deficiency before we proceeded farther east- 
wards ; for in this part of the country horses are to be had 
cheaper than anywhere else at the south. The farmer 
was quite willing to let us have one, but he hesitated to 
part with two. At last, however, he consented to let us 
have them, and he also, after some hesitation, agreed to 
accept their price in English gold. We had now each two 
riding-horses, and besides these we had three baggage- 
horses laden, and two extra baggage-horses running loose. 
We found that our newly purchased horses were out in the 
pasture lands, and that they had not only to be brought in, 
but also to be shod before starting. We therefore sent 
forward our baggage and loose horses, the slowest part 
of our cavalcade, under the charge of our fylo-dar- 
madr, — we ourselves remaining behind to bring on 
our new horses. Whilst they were being caught, the 
farmer invited us into his house to take coffee. By the 
time that we had finished it, our horses had been 
driven up to the door, and the farmer at once threw off 
his coat and went to work to shoe them. Almost all 
Icelanders, from the priests downwards, are good smiths, 
and can put a shoe on well. The farmer of Raudnef-stadr 
was certainly no exception to the rule. I timed him as 
he was shoeing one of the horses. He pared the hoofs 
and fastened on all four shoes in twenty minutes, — no bad 
work! The shoes are always put on cold. They are 
generally each fastened with only four, though sometimes 
with six, nails ; and although the work is more roughly 
done than that of an English smith, yet the shoes gene- 

c 2 


rally last well, and seldom hurt the horse's feet or cause 

lameness. , „ , ^^ r ^^ 

When our horses were shod and saddled, the farmer 
kindly volunteered to accompany us for a short distance, 
and put us in the right track, and soon after half-pa.t mne 
we started under his guidance. After riding about a 
couple of miles, we came to a small stream of lava lymg 
at the bottom of a steep barren hill. Here was the 
boundary of his pasture-grounds; and here, after biddmg 
us a hearty adieu, and giving us full directions as to our 
route, he left us and turned back. 

Our road crossed the lava stream, and ascended the 
hill above it. The ground of this hill consisted of 
shin-le and small stones, all water-worn and rounded, and 
laid°down on a substratum of sand, a^ smoothly and re- 
-mlarly as if the whole were the work of man. No 
macadamised road could have its surface more regularly 
laid. Everywhere the soil was quite bare. No vegetation 
of any kind could be seen, with the exception of patches 
of a bright green moss, which, growing here and there, 
marked the site of a spring or the channel of a water- 


After a ride of about an hour and a half over this sort 
of ground we caught up our baggage-horses. Soon after- 
wards we came to a more rocky tract, where was a Uttle 
more vegetation, though still it was very barren. We were 
now passing along the base of the Tind-f jalla Jokull, the 
lower Maciers of which appeared to be not more than an 
hour's walk from our path. In places these glaciers were 
much broken, and the bright colours of the ice shone out 
vividly in the sun ; but on the whole, the rounded snow- 
slopes looked as if they would not offer much difficulty to 
an ascent. The top of the mountain, as seen from this 
side, appeared to be a flattened dome. 



The streams from the Jokull came tumbling over the 
rugged rocks on our right in several pretty waterfalls. 
Two of them especially, not more than fifty yards apart, 
offered a beautiful contrast to each other. The one was 
broken and feathered in many a spray-spangled fountain, 
the other poured down in a broad, unbroken sheet of 
water. When we reached the N.E. side of the Jokull the 
scenery became of a very different kind ; close before us 
lay a perfectly flat shingle plain of very large extent. 
The shingle in it was as smooth and regular as that on the 
hills which we had crossed in the morning, and the ground 
was quite as barren. On the other side of this plain, and 
rising immediately from it, were numberless mountains, 
one overtopping the other, as far as the eye could see. It 
was a fine scene. Every mountain seemed to have a 
peculiar shape and character of its own, and all seemed to 
be jumbled together in a wonderful confusion. Here, side 
by side, were tall pyramid-shaped mountains, and low 
round-topped hills ; flat table-lands lying next to pointed 
aiguilles, and rocks riven and shattered by storms ; here 
were gradual slopes close beneath precipitous cones which 
towered above them. Equally varied was their colour. 
There in the distance gathering clouds cast a deep shade 
over the hills, whilst here a golden gleam of sunshine lit 
up the yellow cliffs of a sand-coloured berg ; and in an- 
other direction a volcanic hill showed its sides, as red in 
hue as a field of summer clover. 

We rode on through a narrow defile with rocky sides 
at the end of this plain, into another valley which some- 
what resembled it ; and then, traversing a bare moun- 
tainous district, we reached the river Markar-fljot, which, 
although not very broad, was swollen and deep. After 
crossing the river, our road led us along the steep side of 
a ridge of hills completely covered with moss, and deeply 


scored by numerous water-courses. In the valley, we 
came upon a number of very singular mounds of black 
sand, apparently washed down from the hills above ; but 
they were so regular in shape that they looked like arti- 
ficial structures, rather than the work of nature. The 
greater number resembled railway embankments, from 15 
to 40 feet high, 100 to 300 feet long, and 30 to 40 feet 
broad at the top, and broader at the bottom. Descending 
from these mounds, and fording a small stream, a tri- 
butary to the Markar-fljot, we found ourselves close to 
Gr£Ena-fjall (Green fell), a solitary gi-een hill in the 
midst of these barren tracts, in which, although we had 
been riding for nearly six hours, we had scarcely seen a 
blade of grass. A mournful bleat revealed to us a flock 
of sheep, feeding on this solitary oasis. Leaving Graina- 
fjall behind us, we again entered a barren desert, which 
must lie at a considerable elevation above the level of the 
sea, for we came upon several large patches of old snow, 
still unmelted. 

Soon after four o'clock, we reached a small valley, 
named Fangil, where there was a little gi'ass, and where 
it was our original intention to have camped for the night ; 
but we found it very uninviting. The rain had for some 
hours been pouring down in torrents, and had completely 
soaked the ground. There was little chance of our being 
able to make a fire. The only fuel at hand consisted of the 
roots of dwarf willows, and even if we could have collected 
a sufficient quantity of these, they were too damp to burn. 
There was, besides, very little grass for our horses. Under 
these circumstances, we determined to push on into Skap- 
tdr-tunga, a district lying in the Skapta-fells-sysla, sixty 
or seventy miles due east of Hekla, where we hoped to 
reach a farmhouse. So, after stopping at Fangil three- 
quarters of an hour to rest our horses and let them feed. 



we mounted again and proceeded eastwards. Almost 
immediately after leaving Fangil, we entered an extensive 
desert of black volcanic sand, called Mseli-fells Sandr, 
bounded on the north by the snow-covered hills that 
flank the Torfa Jokull, and on the south by the ice- 
fields of the Merkr Jokull. Its width is from two to 
three miles, and it is about fifteen miles in length. The 
ice-fields of the Merkr Jokull terminate in gentle rounded 
declivities, which come quite down to the sand. The 
Jokull rises very gradually towards the south, and for 
a long distance appears to be almost flat. A large extent 
of the lower part of the ice-fields was dusted over, and 
dirtied with black sand blown off the plain, along which 
the Jokull extends for many miles in almost a straight 
line. For an hour and forty minutes we rode over the 
desert at a smart trot, and at the end of that time we 
reached Mseli-fell, a barren mountain of considerable 
size, which, until we came close to it, seemed to block 
up the end of the desert. At 8 p.m. we reached the 
banks of the Holmsa. We had expected, from Gunn- 
laugsson's map, to find grass on the east side of this river ; 
instead of it we found a country green, indeed, as it is 
painted in the map, but green with moss only. There 
was not anywhere a blade of grass for our hungry horses, 
and for more than an hour and a half we rode across moss- 
covered hills and dales. At length our road zigzagged 
down a steep hill-side, and we entered a fine grassy valley 
watered by the Tungu-fljot ; half an hour after crossing 
which we reached Bulandsel, a boer about three miles 
to the west of Buland. It was now 10.30 p.m., and we 
found the farmer and his family retired to rest ; but on 
our arrival they at once got up to offer us all the hospi- 
talities that the farm could aff'ord. 

We intended to have attempted an ascent of the Kotlu- 


gja. A visit to that mountain would have been parti- 
cularly interesting at this time, from the circumstance of 
its having been in a state of eruption in the previous 
year, 1860. We had, however, to give up this intention ; 
for we found that on this side of the mountain there was 
no place from which we could make the ascent, with suffi- 
cient grass for camping out, and to have gone to the 
south-east of the mountain, and returned, would have 
taken up more days than we could well spare. We deter- 
mined, therefore, to push on eastwards at once. Any 
future traveller who may wish to attempt the ascent of 
Kotlu-gja, should do so, I think, from the south, where 
there are several farms not far from its base. The moun- 
tain was, some years ago (1823), attempted from this 
side, with considerable success, by an Icelandic priest of 
the name of Jon Austmann. A less successful attempt to 
reach the summit was made by Messrs. Olafssen and 
Povelsen, so long ago as the year 1756. But they were 
obliged to give up their attempt, as they were enveloped 
in snow and mist, and exposed to the rage of the volcano, 
which had been seen to emit flames only two days before. 
August 1th. — We rode to-day only as far as Buland, and, 
the following day (August 8th), proceeded to Mariu-bakki, 
a little fai-m lying on the south side of the great Skap- 
tar Jokull, half-way between the JokuU and the sea. The 
country through which we passed was very different from 
the deserts we had traversed two days previously between 
Raudnef-stadr and Bulandsel. The greater part of it was 
a fine undulating country, well covered with grass. In 
crossing it, you would never have supposed that you were 
ridintr within a short distance of the most destructive of 
Icelandic volcanoes, one which, not quite eighty years 
ago (1783), devastated the whole of the country around 
it for many miles, throwing out such masses of lava, that 



the molten flood at that eruption from this single volcano 
was, it has been calculated, greater in bulk than Mont 
Blanc itself. Henderson (pp. 219 — 231) gives a most 
interesting account of this eruption, describing with graphic 
detail the phenomena that appeared day by day. I make no 
apology for quoting the following passage from his descrip- 
tion of it. He says, writing in 1815 — 

"It not only appears to have been more tremendous in its 
phenomena than any recorded in the modern annals of Iceland, 
but it was followed by a train of consequences the most direful 
and melancholy, some of which continue to be felt to this day. 
Immense floods of red-hot lava were poured down from the hills 
with amazing velocity, and, spreading over the low country, 
burnt up men, cattle, churches, houses, and everything they at- 
tacked in their progress. Not only was all vegetation, in the im- 
mediate neighbourhood of the volcano, destroyed by the ashes, 
brimstone, and pumice, which it emitted ; but, being borne up 
to an inconceivable height in the atmosphere, they were scattered 
over the whole island, impregnating the air with noxious vapours, 
intercepting the genial rays of the sun, and empoisoning whatever 
could satisfy the hunger or quench the thirst of man and beast. 
Even in some of the more distant districts, the quantity of ashes 
that fell was so great, that they were gathered up by handfuls. 
Upwards of four hundred people were instantly deprived of a 
home ; the fish were driven from the coasts, and the elements 
seemed to vie with each other which should commit the greatest 
depredations. Famine and pestilence stalked abroad, and cut down 
their victims with ruthless cruelty ; while death himself was 
glutted with the prey. In some houses there was scarcely a 
sound individual left to attend the afflicted, or any who possessed 
sufficient strength to inter the dead. The most miserably ema- 
ciated tottering skeletons were seen in every quarter. When 
the animals that had died of hunger and disease were consumed, 
the wretched creatures had nothing to eat but raw hides, and old 
pieces of leather and ropes, which they boiled and devoured with 
avidity. The horses ate the flesh off* one another, and for want of 
other sustenance had recourse to turf, wood, and even excremen- 
titious substances, while the sheep devoured each other's wool. In 



a word, the accumulation of miseries, originating in the volcanic 
eruption, was so dreadful, that in the short space ^^^^ f ^^^'^^ 
fewer than 9336 human beings, 28,000 horses, 11,461 head of 
cattle, and 190,488 sheep, perished on the island." 

Immediately after leaving Buland we came to the banks 
of the Eld-vatn (Fire-water), a deep river of glacier water 
which flows down from the Skaptar Jokull in a channel of 
lava, and is divided into many streams by numerous lava 
islands. It owes its name to having first made its appear- 
ance during the eruption of 1783. We did not find much 
difficulty in crossing it, and having reached its eastern 
shore, we had before us a steep ascent up a high bank, 
up which our road lay by a zigzag path, and at the top of 
which we found a fine broad plateau of marshes and grass 
lands. After traversing these we came to a beautiful 
undulating country, lying amongst green hills, down the 
sides of which many a silver thread of water flashed in the 
sunlight, and here and there, in the far distance, we caught 
glimpses of the blue ocean. But even here, in the 
midst of this beautiful country and these grassy lands, 
has the fire-demon left some traces of his work. In 
the middle of a gTeen plain we came upon an isolated 
hill, which was evidently of volcanic origin. It was in 
shape a perfect cone, and its steep sides were covered 
with scoria of a most brilliant red colour. From this 
last peculiarity it takes its name of Eaud-holt (Red- 
hill). It is quite barren, and on every side of the same 
red colour, except on the south. On that side, near the 
top, is a patch of black cinders. The position of this hill 
is also very remarkable. It stands in a broad natural foss, 
which nms round it on three sides, cutting through and 
exposing the brown soil of the pasture lands to a consider- 
able depth. On the other side it slopes down to the grassy 
plain at its base. 



In the afternoon we descended from the high ground 
upon the village of Kirkju-boer, and thence proceeded to 
Prest-bakki, over a rich plain, well stocked with cattle 


and sheep, belonging to the numerous farms scattered about 
it. Here we halted for half an hour to let our horses feed. 
We had scarcely dismounted when the priest, whose house 
was some little distance off, came out to us, although it was 
raining heavily at the time, and pressed us to come in and 
take coffee. We gladly accepted his invitation and followed 
him indoors. He talked Latin well (a compliment which I 
cannot pay to most of the Icelandic priests), and we had a 
long conversation with him in that language. He told us, 
that in the previous May, 1861, there had been, for several 
days together, a strong and nauseous sulphureous smell 
throughout the whole of this district, which he attributed 
to some volcanic disturbance having occurred farther east- 
wards. Dr. Hjaltelin, of Reykja-vik, and others, sub- 
sequently informed me that a sulphureous smell had 








about the same time been prevalent in the houses at 
Keykja-vik, to such an extent as to be very disagree- 
able ; and that in the district near the Vatna Jokull the 
sulphureous vapour had tarnished all the silver in the 
houses. This smell probably came from the Skeidarar 
Jokull, where (as I shall mention presently) there was 
undoubtedly some, though probably not a very great, vol- 
canic disturbance at that time. 

Coffee was handed round by a pleasant-looking woman, 
introduced to us by the priest as " Uxor mea." When we 
had finished and rose to depart, our host would not hear of 
oiu- going without his riding with us a short way. So he 
ordered his horse to be saddled, and accompanied us, 
although it was still raining. Friendly as was his intention, 
we had soon reason to regret that he had come with us. 
He either imagined that we had acquired an Icelander's 
love for imbibing coffee, or he was very anxious that all 
his friends should have the opportunity of seeing us. 
We had scarcely ridden a mile when he pressed us to 
go and take coffee with his father, a clergyman living 
about a mile up the valley, and we had not ridden 
more than three miles farther, when he took us up to 
another house, which he said was his brother's. He went 
in and brought the owner out to us, and they both together 
pressed us so earnestly to dismount and take coffee, 
that it would have been discourteous to refuse. We were 
kept waiting upwards of an hour whilst the coffee w^as 
being prepared, sorely grudging the loss of time, and, to 
judge from my own feelings, in no very amiable mood. 
From some cause of delay, known only to the members 
of the culinary department, it took all that time to get 
ready. "Experientia docet." Always after this, when 
pressed to take coffee at a way-side house, we asked for 
milk, or cognac, or schnapps, instead ; thus at the same 

time neither offending against Icelandic ideas of courtesy, 
nor losing much time by delay. Eeader ! If you ever 
travel in Iceland, take my advice and do likewise. 

When at length we had finished our coffee, we set 
out again ; the priest accompanied us for a mile or 
two, and then, bidding us a pleasant journey, he turned 
his horse's head homewards. Between 7 and 8 p.m. we 
reached a field of lava, part of the immense flow which 
descended in 1783 from the Skaptar Jokull. Across this 
our road led us for some distance, and as it was now getting 
dark, the riding here became both disagreeable and difficult. 
Shortly before 9 p.m. we reached the Hverfis-fljot, a broad 
and rather deep river, in which, however, the stream was 
not very strong. The bottom is sandy, but in most places 
we found it firm, and we got across it without much diffi- 
culty. From the Hverfis-fljot we had a pretty good road 
to Mariu-bakki, which we reached shortly after 1 p.m. The 
people at the farm had all retired for the night ; but, upon 
our arrival, they at once got up and provided us with all 
that we wanted for our supper. 


August 9th. — We were rather delayed in our start this 
morning by awaiting the preparation of an Icelandic dish, 
which Olaver had strongly recommended to us, but which 
turned out to be nothing more nor less than rice boiled in 
milk, with the addition of a few raisins. Whilst we were 
at breakfast, Olaver came up with a long face to tell us 
that the Nups-vatn was a very dangerous river, and that the 
farmer of Mariu-bakki was the only person thereabouts who 
could guide us over it and the Skeidara to Svina-fell ; and 



'* he charges," said Olaver, "six dollars (13s. 6d) for the 
journey." At the time we thought this rather an exorbitant 
demand,— the ordinary charge for one day's journey and 
back being four dollars (9s.) But since there was only 
this one guide we had no choice. When, however, we 
had come to the end of our day's journey, we had no 
reason to think that he had taken any advantage of us. 
The extraordinary difficulties and dangers quite justified 
him in making an extra charge. 

After bidding our adieus to the inmates of the farm, — 
Olaver and the farmer embracing every one of them, men, 
women, and children, in turn. Shepherd and I, who fought 
shy of those dirty lips, only shaking hands with them,— 
we set out at 1 1 a.m. 

Our fylgdar-madr was such a good specimen of his 
class, that I must endeavour to give a sketch of his 
general appearance. He was a short grey-haired man, 
elderly, but still active, and, to judge from the pair of 
grey eyes that twinkled beneath his shaggy eyebrows, he 
still retained much of the energy of bygone years. As 
is the custom of Icelanders when they go away from 
home, he was dressed in his best suit of clothes, having on 
the dark woollen trowsers and short jacket worn by the 
country people, home-made and home-dyed, and on his feet 
a pair of home-made skuar, or Icelandic shoes. These, 
which are the shoes commonly worn by every one, are like 
slippers in shape, and are made either of ox-hide or sheep- 
skin, and bound round the ankle with strips of hide. His 
neck was wrapped round and round by the thick folds of a 
red woollen comforter, and his head was crowned by a 
low broad -brimmed beaver hat, which, if it ever was 
black, had long since assumed a mournful washed-out hue, 
and looked old enough to have seen the last fifty Icelandic 
winters with its wearer. He was mounted on a low sturdy 



little cream-coloured pony, and he dragged along behind 
him by a halter his second horse, which showed great un- 
willingness to leave the grass of the tun. Olaver's long- 
drawn face plainly showed that he was not over pleased with 
the accounts that he had heard at the farm of the difficulties 
before us. It was only by frequent applications to his 
snuff-box, that almost invariable companion of every Ice- 
lander, that he could at all preserve his equanimity ; and 
when, after an hour and a half or two hours' ride we had 
passed round the base of Loma-gnupr, and saw the broad 
river Nups-vatn rushing by, only a few inches below the 
ground on which we were riding, these applications 
became almost incessant. Loma-gnupr is the last and 
finest of a range of steep hills, which extend from Kirk- 
ju-boer to the Skeidarar Jokull. It stands out quite by 
itself from the line of these hills, and looks like an enor- 
mous square fortification ; its dark tuff rocks beetling 
above the plain beneath to the height of more than 2000 
feet, and presenting on its south and east sides very 
noble precipices, sheer down from its summit to its 

Having reached the Nups-vatn, which flows in a great 
number of channels through a plain of volcanic sand, we 
crossed several of its inferior branches, and reached a large 
sand-bank, washed by the principal stream. Here we halted 
to tie the horses head to tail, as is always done when 
crossing a difficult or dangerous ford, and to put the 
baggage as high as possible on their backs, out of the reach 
of the water. These preparations having been completed, 
the guides moved off into the water, bidding us remain 
where we were until they had discovered a good fording- 
place, for the treacherous quicksands over which this 
river flows are continually shifting their position, and 
where you might have crossed safely yesterday, to-day you 




may be ingulfed, perhaps inextricably. We therefore 
licrhted our pipes and sat down on the sand to watch the 
progress of our guides. They started, each of them with 
two bacrc^ac^e-horses in tow, the farmer leading the way. 
First they crossed a side channel, and made for a sand-bank 
a little higher up the river than that on which we were. 
From this they at once entered the main stream of the 
river. Although the Nups-vatn is deep, and its stream 
strong, it is neither its depth nor its strength, but the 
quicksands which make it difficult and dangerous to 
cross. The farmer is well aware of this, and urges on 
his little cream-coloured horse into the stream with great 
caution. Cautiously does the horse feel his way step by 
step, as he slowly advances, pressed on by the ever-urging 
heel of his rider ; but all this caution is of no avail : all 
at once down goes the horse, head and ears disappearing 
beneath the muddy waters. A splash, a struggle, and a 
bound forwards, and the cream-coloured head again just 
shows itself above the surface, but the horse's hind legs are 
fast held in the sandy bottom. He struggles in vain to 
free himself. The farmer has to dismount, waist deep in 
water, and tug him out by main strength. Then back they 
come wading the stream together, until they have regained 
the sand-bank from which they first set out, and to which 
Olaver has already turned and fled. The fylgdar-madr again 
mounts his gallant little steed, and makes a second attempt 
lower down the stream. Both the man and the horse evi- 
dently enter it this time with more hesitation than at first, 
but both working together and understanding each other in 
a wonderful manner. Here, as the wary rider cautiously 
urges on his horse, the sagacious little animal refuses to 
proceed, and only paws the ground beneath his feet in answer 
to his master's commands ; and the fylgdar-madr lets him 
have his own way, and turns his head down stream to try 



another place. There, where the horse appears equally reluc- 
tant to proceed, the fylgdar-madr urges him on with whip and 
hee], and they pass on in safety. The other horses follow. 
Thus they slowly and with difficulty progress, trying at 
every step the ground before them. At last they reach the 
opposite bank in safety. But it was terribly trying work 
for the poor horses, for first one and then another (although, 
from being tied together, they must have been almost 
following each other's footsteps,) almost disappeared in 
a quicksand or hole. Sometimes they managed to ex- 
tricate themselves ; at other times they had to be dragged 
out by the string of horses to which they were at- 
tached. The state of mind with which Shepherd and I 
looked on at this scene may easily be imagined, when I 
mention that we saw our tent, bedding, saddle-bags, and 
boxes containing biscuits and other necessaries, all, one after 
another, partly or totally, disappearing under the water. 

Leaving the baggage-horses on a sand-bank, separated 
from the opposite shore of the river only by a narrow stream, 
the fy]gdar-madr and Olaver rode up the river, trying in 
several places to ford it back to where they had left us. 
They did not like again to face the place that they had 
just crossed, and did not succeed in discovering any good 
ford until they had ridden about three quarters of a mile 
further up. 

JMeanwhile a fresh cause of delay had arisen. One of 
the loose riding-horses, which had been left to await 
the return of the guides, after looking for some time 
at the passage of his companions, the baggage-horses, 
apparently came to the conclusion that the ford was 
too bad to be attempted; so, deliberately turning tail 
to the river, he started off at a swinging trot back to- 
wards :\Iariu-bakki. I started after him ; but finding that 
the nearer I approached him the faster grew the pace, and 

TOL. I. p 



having in vain tried to stop him by imitating the whistle 
which the Icelanders use to their horses, I left him to his 
o^vn ways until the guides returned. On coming back they 
were naturally not very well pleased, and appeared m doubt 
how to act; until, after their snuff-boxes had been many 
times in requisition, and they had wasted ten minutes in 
words, they came to the conclusion that most men wou^d 
have come to at once,- namely, that one of them should 
take the fastest horse that we had, and ride after the 
runaway. He had not in the least slackened his pace, 
and was just disappearing round the comer of Loma-gnupr 
when the farmer started after him. During his absence 
we went to the place where he and Olaver had recrossed 
the river, and waited his return. He joined us before 
very long, bringing back the deserter, and we all en- 
tered the river together, he leading the way. For about 
half an hour we were wading through the water, which 
was sometimes up to our saddle-girths; at others almost 
covering our knees. Our horses were now walking over 
a firm bottom, now blundering through a quicksand, now 
struggling amongst sand-holes. We reached the eastern 
bank of the river, however, without any mishap, and found 
our baggage-horses still standing on the sand-bank where 
they had been left. After untying them from one another, 
we started across the desert Skeidardr Sandr, which lay 

before us. 

The Sandr is a broad tract of level sand, extending for 
many miles along the sea-coast beneath the Skeidar&r 
JokiiU. This is by far the most remarkable JokuU that I 
saw. Every part of it is completely black, and would pro- 
bably, at first sight, be mistaken for rock. It is terminated 
abruptly by an icy precipice, which, like a vertical wall, 
stands up from the flat Sandr, along its whole length, to 
the height of from twenty to forty feet. 




As we approached the middle of the Sandr, we heard, 
in front of us, the roar of the Skeidara. This river 
has recently changed its position considerably from its 
former course, as laid down in Gunnlaugsson's map. 
Perhaps it would be more correct to say that the old 
Skeidara has ceased to flow, and that a new river has burst 
out from a different part of the Jokull. The old course of 
the Skeidara, which was at the east end of the Skeidarar 
Sandr, is now marked by only a few inconsiderable 
streams. The new Skeidara flows from the centre of 
the Jokull. This change took place in May 1861, at 
which time there evidently was a volcanic disturbance 
somewhere in the interior of the Vatna Jokull. No vol- 
cano, however, is known to exist in these unexplored 
regions, which still retain their mysterious character, and 
it is to be hoped that before long a well-organised expe- 
dition may penetrate the hitherto untrodden expanse. 
Not only did a strong sulphureous smell, as I have before 
mentioned, then pervade the whole of the country to the 
west of the Vatna Jokull, but there was also an eruption 
of water from the Skeidara Jokull. Such volumes of water 
were poured forth from the south and south-eaist ends of 
this Jokull, that the whole of the Sandr beneath it was- 
covered with one broad flood, and, for many days, ren- 
dered impassable. 

Unfortunately there was no one near the spot to note 
the phenomena of this water eruption. I could learn little 
about it, except the fact that the Skeidarar Jokull had 
flooded the whole, or nearly the whole, plain with water 
and ice. 

It happened, however, that a party of Englishmen, 
on their way to Iceland, in the beginning of June, fell 
in with a stream of this water at sea, about eighty 
miles off the coast They appear to have at once dis- 

D 2 






tingiiished it from the sea-water by its colour ; and they 
saiFed through it for thirty miles. This proves that the 
eruption of ^ater must have been very gteat. A letter 
from Mr. Hogarth, one of the party, giving an account of 
the meeting with this stream, will be found in a note at 

the end of this paper. 

Wlien we came in sight of the Skeidara, the roar of 
whose waters we had heard for a considerable distance, 
we saw a broad sheet of murky water, rushing across 
the sandy plain with indescribable velocity, the waters 
appearing to be raised above the level of the ground 
on which we stood. Over the whole breadth of the 
stream,— either from the velocity with which it rushed 
before our eyes, or from the clouds of spray that flew 
upwards from the breaking waves,— there was an indis- 
tinct mistiness, such as is often seen in the heat of a 
summer's day hovering over the ground. The river has 
become much more formidable and dangerous since it 
shifted its position. The prospect of crossing certainly 
was not pleasant, even when we only heard its roar 
from a distance, and looked from far off on its waves 
leaping and gleaming in the sinking sunlight. But 
when we reached its shore, and stood close by the 
rushincr river, with its roar in our very ears, and its angry 
waves racing by at our feet, — when we saw in it the large 
masses of broken ice which were being carried down from 
the Jokull and hurried swiftly past us, — when we heard 
these crunching and grating, as they bumped against the 
stones or over the shallows with a loud harsh sound, dis- 
tinctly audible above the noise of the rushing waters,— 
then the river did indeed look formidable, and it seemed 
almost madness to trust ourselves to its fury. But there 
was no alternative : the only way to get across was to 
ride through it. 



We reached the bank of the river at a distance of not 
more than 200 yards below the Jokull, and halted to make 
the necessary preparations for crossing. The horses were 
tied together, head to tail, in the usual manner, and the 
baggage was securely fastened high up on their backs, as 
much out of the reach of the water as possible. Whilst 
the guides were engaged in making these preparations. 
Shepherd took his gun, and stalked two great northern 
divers, which were swimming about in a pool of glacier 
water close by. I meanwhile walked up to the foot of 
the Jokull, in order to investigate the cause of its intense 
blackness. Many of the Icelandic Jokulls are in close 
proximity to large plains of volcanic sand, and the lower 
portions bordering on the plains are often dirtied, over a 
large extent of the surface, by the black sand blown upon 
them. But the colour of the ice beneath remains un- 
changed, and generally shows itself in white patches here 
and there; and that part of it which is dusted over 
assumes a dark grey, rather than a decidedly black colour. 
Moreover, in such cases, wherever you can see far into 
the interior of these Jokulls, you find, as might naturally be 
expected, that those parts which are nearest to the sand- 
plains are darker than those which are more remote. In 
almost every Jokull that I saw thus discoloured, the white 
ice of the interior retained its natural whiteness, and was 
merely set in a border of a darker colour. But the ap- 
pearance of the Skeidarar Jokull was very different. 
Every part of it that we could see was quite black. I 
came to the Jokull just at the spot where a tributary 
stream of the Skeidara rushed out of a dark cavern in 
the ice. The roof and sides of this cavern were of the 
same jet black hue as the surface of the Jokull. My 
riding-whip was the only instrument at hand with which I 
could break the ice. With it I could not do more than 


chip ofF the angles of the projecting masses. But this 
wa^ enough to convince me that the sand and grit were 
frozen into the ice, and not merely lying upon its surface. 
How far the mass of the Jokull was thus impregnated 
with sand I had no means of discovering. It looked as 
if its whole body was thus discoloured. The ice in the 
blocks which had become detached from the Jokull and 
had fallen on the plain seemed black throughout, and not 
merely coated with sand grit ; and this was my impression 
after examining several of them. If I am right in this 
belief, the whole Jokull was probably impregnated with 
black sand in the same way ; and this would account for 
the difference of its appearance from that of every other 

Jokull I saw. 

It is difficult to account for this entire impregnation of 
the mass with black sand, on the supposition that it arose 
only from the sand having been blown over it; for in 
that case there would have been some white ice visible in 
the fissures and caverns, at least. The only solution 
that occurs to me, is that some volcanic eruption in 
the interior of the Jokull, similar to that which oc- 
curred in May, 1861, showered down an enormous 
quantity of sand and cinders on the snow before it be- 
came ice, and that the process of alternate melting and 
freezinc^, which converts snow into ice, carried the sand 
into the very heart of the Jokull. 

On my rejoining the rest of the party, we all mounted, 
and at once moved off to attempt the passage of the river. 
The farmer, who had exchanged his second horse, which 
he had ridden from the Nupsvatn, for his favourite cream- 
coloured water-horse, led the way ; zigzagging from sand- 
bank to sand-bank across two or three lesser streams, we 
soon reached the shore of the main channel. After a 
moment's halt the guide rode on into the stream. 



Scarcely had his horse advanced half a dozen steps into the 
water, when the force of the current all but swept him off 
his legs, and the guide had to turn him back to the shore. 
Finding that it was impossible to ford the river at this 
point, we left the island sand-bank upon which we were, 
and rode down stream through the water for some distance, 
picking our way through the shallows as well as we 
were able. We proceeded in this way for some distance 
without being able to find any place where the river 
appeared at all practicable. 

At length we came to a shallow, where our guide pulled 
up to take a survey of our way. The water here was up 
to our horses' girths, and very swift ; but it served as a sort 
of resting-place in the midst of the deeper waters round it. 
Having satisfied himself as to our route, our guide again 
urged on his horse through the stream, and led the way 
towards the mid channel. We followed in his wake, and 
soon were all stemming the impetuous and swollen torrent. 
In the course of our journey we had before this crossed a 
good many rivers more or less deep ; but all of them had 
been mere child's play compared to that which we were 
now fording. The angry waves rose high against our horses' 
sides, at times almost coming over the tops of their 
shoulders. The spray from their broken crests was dashed 
up into our faces. The stream was so swift, that it was 
impossible to follow the individual waves as they rushed 
past us, and it almost made one dizzy to look down at it. 
Now, if ever, is the time for firm hand on rein, sure seat, 
and steady eye : not only is the stream so strong, but the 
bottom is full of large stones, which your horse cannot see 
through the murky waters ; if he should fall, the torrent 
will sweep you down to the sea — its white breakers are 
plainly visible as they run along the shore at scarcely a 
mile's distance, and they lap the beach as if they waited 





for their prey. Happily, they will be disappointed. Swim- 
mmg would be of no use, but an Icelandic water-horse 
seldom makes a blunder, or a false step. 

Not the least of the risks we ran in crossing the Skeidara, 
was from the masses of ice carried down by the stream 
from the Jokull, many of them being large enough to 
knock a horse over. Fortunately we found much less ice 
in the centre and swiftest part of the river, where we 
were able to see and avoid it, than in the side channels. 
How the horses were able to stand against such a stream 
was marvellous ; they could not do so unless they were 
constantly in the habit of crossing swift rivers. The Ice- 
landers, who live in this part of the island, keep horses 
known for their qualities in fording difficult rivers, and they 
never venture to cross a dangerous stream unless mounted 
on a tried water-horse. The action of the Icelandic 
horses, when crossing a swift river, is very peculiar. They 
lean all their weight against the stream, so as to resist it 
as much as possible, and move onwards with a peculiar 
side step. This motion is not agreeable. It feels as if 
your horse were marking time without gaining ground ; 
and the progress made being really very slow, the shore 
from which you started seems to recede from you, whilst 
that for which you are making appears as far off as ever. 

When we reached the middle of the stream, the roar of 
the waters was so great that we could scarcely make our 
voices audible to one another : they were overpowered by 
the crunching sound of the ice, and the bumping of 
large stones against the bottom. Up to this point, a 
diagonal line, rather down stream, had been cautiously 
followed ; but when we came to the middle, we turned 
our horses' heads a little against the stream. As we 
thus altered our course, the long line of baggage-horses 
appeared to be swung round altogether, as if swept off 



their legs. None of them, however, broke away, and they 
continued their advance without accident ; and at length 
we all reached the shore in safety. From the time that 
we first entered the river we were about an hour actually 
in the water, and it cannot have been less than a mile in 
breadth. The Skeidara is at all times one of the most for- 
midable rivers in Iceland ; but it is not always in such a 
dangerous state as when we crossed it. Our guide had 
crossed only two days before, and he then found it com- 
paratively free from danger. Its dangerous state was 
probably caused by the great heat of the previous day. 

We stopped for half an hour to let our horses feed on a 
patch of grass at a short distance from the river, and then 
proceeded. The country, which lies between the present 
and the old course of the Skeidara, is very remarkable. 
We found the greater part of the Sandr honeycombed, so 
to speak, with innumerable round quicksand holes. The 
largest of these were as much as thirty feet in diameter, 
and from ten to fifteen feet in depth. Many of them 
were half filled with water, generally of the milky-white 
colour of glacial streams. In some of them the farmer 
pointed out what he said was Jokull ice underneath the 
water; but in most there was no water, but only wet 
quicksands, which bubbled up as we rode by them. 
These holes lay close to one another, and were separated 
only by narrow ridges of sand, often scarcely a foot in 
width at the top, but sloping outwards and widening to- 
wards the bottom. The farmer said that they first made 
their appearance in the month of May 1861, when the 
out-flow of waters from the Jokull had subsided, and 
he attributed their presence to the Jokull having come 
down unmelted underneath the sand at the same time 
that the water rushed out from it. I think, however, that 
they were caused by the melting of the masses of ice, 

11 V 

\ - 

wlucli were left deposited upon the plain on the subsidence 
of the floods caused by the eruption, and that the water 
coming from these masses of ice as they melted, soaked 
into the sand around them, and converted it into quick, 
sands. Henderson appears to have met with sxmilar holes 
filled with quicksand " in the usual channel of the 
Jokulsa a Breida-merkr, which he found dried up. ^ e did 
not meet with any such on the Breida-merkr Sandn 

These quicksand holes caused us much difficulty and 
delay ; it required great caution to prevent our loose 
horses, which we were driving before us, from pushing one 
another into them, especially when several of them tried 
to pass along the same narrow ridge between two of the 
holes at the same time. At length, after riding two or 
three hours amongst the sand holes, we reached an exten- 
sive flat tract of sand which lay beyond them. We hoped 
that, upon reaching this, we should find the ground better 
suited for riding over ; but we were disappointed, for we 
discovered that the surface, which here looked sound 
and firm enough, served only to hide the quicksands 
lyin- beneath it. At one place, where the sand looked 
damp and black, it bore the weight of the horses very well ; 
at another, where the appearance of the ground was pre- 
cisely the same, in went the leading horse, sinking into 
a slough of sand often shoulder-deep, sometimes deeper. 
From ""this he could not always extricate himself, and 
we had to dismount to help him out. The dry-look- 
ing places were no more to be trusted than the wet, for 
the dry sand was often a mere crust concealing a pit- 
fall, into which one or other of the horses would suddenly 
sink; fortunately, none of them were very deep. Our 
horses, after a little experience over this sort of ground, 
became very much frightened, and moved forward with the 
greatest caution and reluctance ; they huddled together 



in a body, sniffed the ground with their noses, and we 
often had great difficulty in driving them forward, but 
where one horse had ventured all the others would imme- 
diately follow. We rode last of all, and found that the 
trodden sand generally bore us tolerably well, though not 
always, and once we saw Olaver, who was following some of 
the baggage-horses, suddenly disappear, horse and all, into 
a hole covered by a crust of sand, over which we were 
about to follow him ; he managed, however, to scramble out, 
and got his horse out unhurt. We could not have ridden 
less than five or six miles among these quicksands, and 
were not clear of them before it grew dark. 

A few miles after passing the Skeidara quicksands, we 
had a fine view of the Oroefa Jokull. There had been a 
thick drizzling rain falling most part of the afternoon ; 
but about the time of sunset the clouds vanished, and 
we saw the mountain with his summit glowing in the 
rich tints of the evening light, and looking the monarch 
of Icelandic Jokulls. The top of the mountain from this 
side appeared to be a high dome of snow, standing up out 
of a vast snow-field, which, with rounded slopes, fell away 
from it north and south, and then on each side rose again, 
so as to form two well-defined shoulders. From these the 
snow-slopes fell away much more steeply than between 
them and the summit. The most northern of these snowy 
heights, called Hvanna-dals-nukr, appeared almost to rival 
in height the Knappr itself. The dark rocks, which form 
the central dome of the Jokull, appear from almost every 
side like a black knob rising out of the snow; and hence it 
is called the Knappr, or button. From the snow-slopes 
beneath Hvanna-dals-nukr, a tery fine glacier falls in a 
precipitous ice-cataract, between two steep hills, into 
the plain beneath, forming with the slopes above a 





continuous stretch of ice and snow, from the base to the 
summit, a height of nearly 6000 feet. ^ 

At length, after a long and tedious ride from the Skei- 
dara we reached three or four small streams, which flowed 
from the ea^t end of the Skeidarar Jokull, and from the 
Oroefa. After crossing these we felt grass agam beneath 
our horses' feet, and, cantering forward, soon heard the 
bark of dogs, and at 11.30 P.M. reached the farm of Svina- 
fell, our destination for the night; and we were not long 

in pitching our tent. 

The next morning (August 10th), as we were at break- 
fast in our tent, we heard ourselves accosted in English. 
The speaker turned out to be Mr. Milbanke, an English 
gentleman, who had come up to Iceland in the early part 
of the summer, and was travelling nearly the same route 
as ourselves. He had arrived at Svina-fell two days before 
us, and was lodging in the farmhouse. He told us, that 
when he crossed the Skeidara it was not in nearly such 
a dangerous state as that in which we had found it. 
After breakfast 3Ir. JNIilbanke proposed that we should 
accompany him in a walk to the Svina-fell glacier, which 
we had seen on the previous day from the Skeidarar Sandr, 
and was not ten minutes' walk from the farm. We gladly 
assented to his proposal; and, taking our alpenstocks, 
we all three started together on our expedition. 

We got upon it near its foot, where it adjoins the green 
slopes of Hafra-fell, a steep mountain abutting into the 
plaiu behind the farm, and shielding it from the cold 
winds that sweep over the icy tracts of the Vatna Jokull. 
The lower end of the glacier does not extend quite across 
the valley down which it descends, and a steep-sided 
hollow filled with the debris deposited by a lateral moraine 
separates it from the slopes of Hafra-fell. Above the 
bottom of this hollow rises a high bank of ice, which 



forms the side of the glacier. Crossing the hollow, and 
scaling the bank, we gained the top of the glacier, and 
proceeded up it. The ice was everywhere full of minute 
air-cells, which gave it a white colour, and there were 
few places showing the brilliant colouring which is ordi- 
narily one of the greatest beauties of glacier ice. Even 
the crevasses were, as a rule, wanting in colour, — at 
least those on the lower part of the glacier. Higher up 
the vivid tints of blue and green, that lighted up the 
broken parts of a fine ice-cataract, fully atoned for the 
absence of colour below. The glacier at its lower part 
was not much crevassed, but its surface was broken by 
high ridges of ice, between which lay long and deep 
furrows. It looked as if it might once have been a flow- 
ing sea, and those long ridges rolling waves, arrested sud- 
denly in their onward course, and ice-bound in death-like 
stillness. They seemed still to maintain the lines of the 
swelling billows ; and one might almost fancy that it needed 
but some magician's wand to break the spell, and, unbinding 
the icy waves, let them once more roll onwards down the 
valley. As we proceeded up the glacier, deep crevasses 
opened in the troughs between the ridges, widening more 
and more the higher we ascended. We were too close 
beneath the steep sides of the Oroefa Jokull to obtain a 
good view of it. Far away to the west extended the 
dark expanse of the Skeidarar Jokull, while at its 
eastern end I saw a few small spots of white in its black 

After a walk of about two hours upon the glacier, we re- 
turned to the farm, and had our horses driven in from the 
pasturage grounds, and saddled for Knappa-vellir. When 
they had been collected together and brought in, we found 
one of the baggage-horses so lame as to be useless, and 
quite unable to go any farther. He had been badly 




Strained in one of the sand sloughs on the Skeida- 
rar Sandr. We were in some perplexity bb to what wa^ 
best to be done under the circumstances, when the good 
people of the farm brought us a fresh horse of their own, 
and offered to exchange it for our injured animal. To our 
surprise, they were ready to do this a^ an act of hospitality, 
without expecting so much as a shilling to be thrown 
into this one-sided bargain. But their generosity did not 
end here; for our obligations to them were still more in- 
creased by their sendmg out to us, at the minute of our 
departure, the welcome present of a leg of mutton. It 
was a joint off one of two sheep, killed to provide for a 
funeral feast, to take place on the following day, when the 
body of an Icelander, who had met his death amongst the 
quicksands of the Skeidarar Sandr, two days before we 
crossed them, was to be buried at Sandfell, where is the 
nearest church. He and his horse had fallen into one of the 
holes and sunk deeply into the quicksand, and it was not 
without great difficulty that his body had been recovered and 
brought to Svina-fell. After his funeral his neighbours 
were to meet the next day, as is the custom in Iceland, at 
a feast given in memory of the dead. 

Bidding farewell to Mr. Milbanke, who intended to stay 
some days longer at Svina-fell, we started at 4.30 p.m., and 
after a ride of three hours and a half reached Knappa- 
vellir. We had determined to make this place our head- 
quarters for the next day or two, intending, if the weather 
should prove favourable, to attempt thence the ascent 
of the Orcefa Jokull. Our original intention was to have 
gone on to Kvisker, the farm from which Mr. Paulson 
attempted the ascent in 1794; but we were informed 
that there was not sufficient grass at that place for our 
horses, and therefore determined to stop at Knappa- 



The road between Svina-fell and Knappa-vellir was not 
very interesting. Shortly after leaving Svina-fell we passed 
beneath the Hvanna-dals glacier, one of the five or six 
glaciers that descend from the Oroefa Jokull towards the 
south. All of these are similar in character, being short 
steep glaciers, coming down from the heights of the moun- 
tain between the rocky sides of beetling fells. 

For the rest of the way the road lies beneath steep and 
lofty hills, which, like huge bastions, flank the base of the 
Oroefa Jokull. The ground beneath is a flat plain, consisting 
for the most part of sand ; though, scattered here and there 
in the midst of the sandy desert, a few isolated farms, with 
their green tuns and pasture-lands, offer a pleasing contrast 
to the general aspect of dreariness and desolation. The 
mountains, too, though barren above, are in many places 
luxuriantly green towards their bases; and, to judge from 
the large flocks of sheep that we saw grazing upon them 
near some of the farms, make good sheep-runs. Near to 
the farm of Hof we ascended a slight rise in the ground, 
and found ourselves upon a grassy plateau which surrounds 
Knappa-vellir. The grass lands here are much extended, 
and run out for a long distance towards the sea, ending in 
the flat spit of sand which almost joins the promontory of 
Ingolfs-hofdi with the mainland. Ingolfs-hofdi itself is a 
rather low, square looking, rocky headland, which runs out 
into the sea nearly opposite to Knappa-vellir. It is his- 
torically interesting, as being the spot where the Norwegian 
Ingolf landed on his second visit to Iceland. We reached 
Knappa-vellir at 8 o'clock in the evening, and found it 
the most populous place we had come to since leaving Eeyk- 
ja-vik. There are two farms here, each of them consisting 
of several houses ; so that there may be as many as five or 
six different families in the "^Ao7^e," as the Icelanders 
term a cluster of farms. Each farm has its separate tun. 






There being no church near, we pitched our tent in one 
of the tuns. It is the custom in Iceland for travellers 
to put up in the churches, and we generally found them 
very comfortable sleeping places; but where there wa^ no 
church, we preferred our tent to the too often close, and not 
very agreeable atmosphere of the Icelandic farm-houses; 
even although by so doing we had to make our bed upon 
the gi'ound, instead of sleeping literally upon mattresses 
of eiderdo>vn. We used, however, to obtain our necessary 
supplies of provisions from the houses : coffee, milk, butter, 
and kaku, (a sort of rye-flour damper), are to be met with 
almost everywhere. By the time that we had got up our 
tent, and spread our waterproof sheets and rugs upon the 
ground for our beds, Olaver appeared with a pot of steam- 
ino- hot coffee and a heap of kaku from the farm. So we 
drew one of our travelling boxes into the middle of the 
tent, to serve as a table, and sat down to supper. The leg 
of m'utton which we got at Svina-fell in the morning made 
an excellent addition to our fare. 

After supper came our evening pipes, and a bowl of 
warm new sheep's milk. Then we crept in between our 
rugs, and were soon sound asleep. 

^August nth, >Su7ifZa?/.— We were naturally looked upon 
by the inhabitants as objects of great curiosity. Very few, 
if any, of them had ever seen a foreigner, except perhaps 
a few Danes, at Djupivogr or Eyrar-bakki, when they went 
there to lay in their stores of provisions. This part of the 
island had remained unvisited since M. Gaimard travelled 
through it in 1836, previous to which no traveller had 
been there since Henderson in 1815. The people seemed 
to find great pleasure in watching us, and looking at our 
books, maps, knives, and such sorts of things. When we 
were in our tent we had generally a group of half a dozen 
spectators clustering round the door. Their great delight 



was to see us begin our meals. On these occasions we 
had quite a ring of people — men, women, and children — 
about us, who approached as near as they could, without 
being intrusive, and watched us until we began to eat, as 
if they expected to see something strange in our manner 
of doing so. Soon after we had begun, they generally one 
by one dispersed. Some of the children, who thus ga- 
thered round our tent, looked very sickly (one little girl 
was horribly deformed) ; but the men for the most part 
looked hearty enough, and several of them were fine tall 
strapping fellows; the women, too, though, like most of 
their countrywomen, they were not remarkable for their 
beauty, appeared strong and healthy. 

The weather all the morning was dark and threatening, 
and clouds of mist hung about the sides of the moun- 
tains. But in the afternoon it looked more promising, 
the clouds began to break, and the sun at intervals shone 
out brightly and warmly. At half-past four we set out 
for a stroll up the mountain behind the boer. Following 
up the course of a small stream, which flows down near 
the farms, we soon left behind us the grass lands which 
skirt the foot of the rising ground behind Knappa-vellir. 
Beyond them is a square bluff hill, standing out from the 
mountain, which from below appears almost perpendicular. 
Up this hill we proceeded : the ground of which it consists is 
loose shingle, excessively disagreeable to walk upon. Here 
and there, however, we found, to our great relief, long strips 
of a soft grey moss, which gave us good footing, and made 
the walking comparatively easy. Among the moss were 
innumerable berberries and blaberries, quite blue with 
fruit, ripe, juicy, and very tempting. After a hard pull 
of about twenty minutes we gained the brow of the steep 
slopes, and found ourselves in a sort of large semicircular 
basin of supervening ridges, which were wholly composed 

VOL. I. 


Of loose stones of various sizes, and shingle A few thin 
Its of rushes, a.d scattered plants of thrxft and b adder 
Lpion, grew amongst the stones. Both of these flowers 
Tmto deUght inbarren spots, where there is not soil enough 
sustain the growth of any other plant, and they are very 
eo::! on th": shmgle deserts of Iceland. The ndges 
above us were not very steep, and we soon gamed the 
rim of the basin, and came upon a large barren plateau, 




which sloped gently down from the N. and N.W. towards 
the S. The ground of this plateau was a shingle, made up 
chiefly of tuff, lava, and pumice stones ; amongst which 
were also a great number of small bits of obsidian, gene- 
rally of about the size of a nut, and blocks and boulders 
of a s>^enitic-looking rock. Soon after reaching the pla- 
teau we came in sight of the unsullied white snow-fields 
of the Oroefa Jokull, sparkling in the afternoon sun, which 

had by this time asserted his superiority over the clouds, 
and was shining as warmly and brightly as on an English 
summer afternoon. The snow-fields looked so inviting, 
and the day was so fine, that, had it not been too far 
spent to allow sufiicient light to make the ascent 
and return, we should at once have attempted the 
mountain. But it was too late ; and so, being attracted 
by the sound of a waterfall on our right, apparently at 
no great distance, we turned our steps in that direction, 
keeping nearly parallel to the snow-line that bounded 
the plain on the N. After walking for some two or 
three hundred yards we reached the brink of a preci- 
pice, which, with a corresponding precipice on the other 
side, bounded a narrow gorge. Through this, at the 
depth of several hundred feet below the plateau on 
which we stood, descended a steep and broken glacier, 
its ice coloured with the most lovely tints of green and 
blue. The glacier, fed by the snows of the Jokull, seemed 
to have broken with irresistible force through the opposing 
barriers of rocks, and made for itself a way towards the 
foot of the mountain. Sweeping round these rocks, the 
glacier entered the throat of the gorge, and after de- 
scending gradually for a short distance, fell down an almost 
precipitous cascade, filling up the whole width of the gorge. 
From the plateau upon which we were, we could peer 
over the perpendicular cliffs into the gaping crevasses that 
opened beneath. On our left, the waterfall, whose roar 
had attracted us, dashed with one bold leap down to the 
glacier, and then, after flowing along its surface for a short 
distance, disappeared beneath the ice. Above us farther 
off were the extensive snow-slopes of the Oroefa, sweeping 
down from the Knappr, a lofty dome of snow-capped rocks, 
which, like the hoary watch-tower of some ancient castle, 
overlooks the vast expanse of the Vatna Jokull. 

£ 2 





After spending some time in the enjoyment of this 
wondrous scene, we turned back the way we had come, 
and made across the plateau, in a N.W. direction, towards 
a high ridge of stones and rocky debris, which lay on the 
othe° side.'' This debris was evidently a moraine brought 
down by the ice from some dark rocks that rose out of the 
snow, like a vertical wall, at the distance of several hundred 


In our way across the plateau we came to a large held 

of pumice sand, several acres in extent, deeply scored by 
the streams which flowed from the snow regions above. 
We found it in general very soft and friable, but in some 
places there lay imbedded in it great masses of pumice 
stone, not yet reduced to the fine powdery consistency of 
the sand around them. On the other side of the moraine, 
a broad tongue of ice ran down between two of the lower 
mountains of the Jokull. On this stood five or six ice-cones, 
varying in height from one to twenty feet, covered with 
black sand, and offering a curious contrast to the white 
ice which surrounded them. The view we obtained from 
this plateau was not so extensive as we had hoped. To the 
N. and N.E. it was confined by the Oroefa Jokull itself, 
and by Skadar-Qall, one of the dark buttress-like moun- 
tains that lie at the ba^e of the Jokull. To the N.W. it 
was equally shut out by the snow-slopes above us in that 
direction. To the W. we could see the dusky Skeidarar 
Jokull far beneath us, and to the S. the dark promontory 
of Ingolfs-hofdi set in the ocean, as in a framework of 
blue. Of the peaks, passes, and glaciers in the interior 
of the Vatna Jokull, we could see nothing. 

We had no time to explore more of the Oroefa that 
afternoon, but hurried homewards, to avoid being be- 
niohted. The sun was down when we reached our tent, 
and a daxk cloud-wrack rising up from the sea fully war- 

ranted the unfavourable answer we received to our anxious 
inquiries whether the next day would be fine. We were 
told that there was not the least hope of its clearing up 
enough to allow us to ascend the Jokull. 

August I2th. — When we first looked out, thick clouds 
hung about the tops of the mountains, but about 8 p.m. 
they began to clear oif, and on consulting the farmer in 
whose tun we had taken up our quarters, he held out some 
hopes of the day turning out fine after all. We deter- 
mined, therefore, upon making a start. 

The weather, which for the past week had generally 
been thick, clearing only for a few hours before sunset, 
seemed likely to continue ; so we felt that any chance of 
a fine day was not to be thrown away. Hoping that we 
might be favoured by one of those sudden changes which 
are common in the south-eastern parts of the island, we 
at once engaged the farmer to act as our guide, which he 
was ready enough to do, for the small sum of one dollar 
and two marks, not quite three shillings. 

Sigurdr, — for that was the farmers name, — was a fine 
strapping fellow of one or two and thirty, standing at 
least six feet high in his stockings ; but he scarcely looked 
prepared for a mountain expedition, when, in a quarter of 
an hour from the time that we had engaged him, he pre- 
sented himself before our tent door, with only a pair of 
common Icelandic shoes on his feet. Underneath the 
shoes, however, were two pair of stout, close-knit woollen 
stockings, bound below the knee, outside his dark blue 
breeches, with garters of blue, red, and white ; and round 
his neck was wound the comforter invariably worn by 
Icelandic guides. He had on his best dark woollen jacket 
and his best wide-awake hat, unmistakable signs that he 
was going from home ; and the heavy wooden drift-wood 
pole— armed at the bottom with a large iron spike of some 


If I 




three inches' length driven into the wood — spoke of the 
nature of his expedition. When, in addition to these, he had 
fastened round his broad shoulders the rope that we had 
provided, and had shouldered our ice-axe, he did not, after 
all, look so very unlike a mountaineer. Before we started, 
one of the people from the farm brought us each a pair of 
crampons, and offered to lend them to us. I preferred, 
however, trusting to the nails in my boots. The possession 
of crampons shows that the Icelanders are not alto- 
gether unacquainted with their Jokulls ; but as far as I 
could learn, they only venture upon them in search of 
stray sheep, or in crossing from one mountain sheep-run 
to another. Their national apathy and want of energy 
make it unlikely that they should associate themselves, 
like the Swiss peasants, with their mountains. 

Our few preparations were soon made, and we started 
from the beer about 8.30 A.M. Olaver remained behind, 
and, after bidding us farewell, stood looking after us, 
with a face expressive of the surprise, not unmingled 
with contempt, with which he regarded the foolhardiness 
of Englishmen, who ventured upon a Jokull for pleasure. 

Ascending the mountains immediately behind the boer, 
by a somewhat easier path than that we had chosen the 
day before, we soon mounted to a considerable height. 

At 9.50 we gained the stony plateau, which we had 
reached in our stroll the previous day, and after twenty 
minutes' more brisk walking we came to the first 
patch of old and dirty snow. Keeping on our left the 
moraine we had crossed the day before, we picked our 
way amongst the large stones of a water-worn gully, 
which lay between small hills of pumice. Passing over 
one of these hills, on which we found numerous bits 
of obsidian scattered about, we came to a spot where 
many cones and hard-frozen ridges of ice, covered with 



pumice sand, marked the foot of the ice-fields of the 

Here we rested for a few minutes before getting upon 
the ice, for we were already beginning to feel the heat of 
the day, the sun being very powerful, although the top of 
the mountain above us was still shrouded in thick clouds. 
Sigurdr, who felt the heat as much as we did, amused us 
by going to the nearest water-rill, and washing his head 
all over ; after this refreshing operation, he was ready for 
a fresh start. Indeed we could not afford a long rest, for 
the snow-terraces still rose before us : the hot sun would 
soon soften the snow, and every minute's delay would make 
the walking over it more laborious. 

We, therefore, rose from our resting-place, and in a 
few minutes set foot upon the ice. On the lower part of 
this there was no snow, and the thin coating of ice, with 
which last night's frost had covered the innumerable little 
water rills which coursed their way over the hard frozen 
surface of the neve, were yet unmelted^ and crackled 
crisply and joyfully beneath our feet. 

We struck across the ice in a N. W. direction, towards 
the mass of dark rocks, which, at the distance of five or 
six hundred yards from the place where we had first 
got upon the ice, cropped out of the bosom of the snow 
in a fine unbroken mass. Before we reached them 
a surface of snow had almost imperceptibly replaced that 
of ice; but as yet this was hard frozen and firm, and 
afforded good footing. Having reached the S. E. corner 
of the rocks, we kept below them till we came to their 
western corner. This we rounded, and proceeded up a 
steep ascent of snow, having the rocks on our right. 

Here our progress was stopped by a broad crevasse 
which was too wide to jump: we therefore left the 
vicinity of the rocks, and chose a way up the snow-slope 


some distance from them. The neve (for the snow only 
served as a covering to it) was not much broken, and the 
walking was for some time very good. But by-and-by 
we came to a place where several crevasses showed them- 
selves beneath the upper crust of snow, which looked as if 
it concealed others. We therefore thought it better to have 
recourse to the rope. Shepherd and I accordingly bound 
ourselves in the usual manner, and tried to prevail upon 
Sigurdr to follow our example; but he only laughed at 
us, and assured us that "he had often been upon the 
Jokull before," and there was no "fear for him:" "he 
was not afraid of the crevasses." We endeavoured to ex- 
plain to him that our safety, as well as his own, might 
depend upon all being properly tied. Our persuasions 
were all in vain. " You are safe enough so," he repeated ; 
until at length, finding that nothing that we could say 
would induce him to link his fate with ours, we let him 
do as he wished, and started again. He led the way with 
the end of the rope loosely twisted two or three times 
round his right hand, in which he also carried his alpen- 
stock; while Shepherd and I followed roped together. 
Thus we proceeded up the snow-slopes, now making a 
circuit to avoid a crevasse, and now crossing one on a 
bridge of snow. 

The ascent for the first half-hour after we had got upon 
the ice was very easy. At the end of that time we had a 
fatiguing pull up a long snow-slope, lying at an inclina- 
tion of 30°, the surface of which had already been 
sufficiently softened by the morning sun to make the 
walking up it tedious work. We reached the top of this 
slope about mid-day, and crossed a narrow snow plateau 
to the slopes beyond. Here we found the last patch of 
old snow that we saw in the course of our ascent. The 
roimded terraces of the mountain that rose above us were 
all covered with a new and dazzling mantle. 



After toiling up hill for a quarter of an hour more, we 
found further progress apparently barred by an immense 
chasm, or bergschrund, which yawned before us, right in 
the line of our path, and ran east and west as far as we 
could see. We halted on its brink to hold a council of 
war as to our best mode of proceeding. Sigurdr suggested 
that we had come quite high enough, and might as well 
return home at once. He could not imagine that we 
wished to reach the summit. He hinted that we had seen 
the Jokull, and that that was what we had wanted. This 
suggestion, I need scarcely say, did not at all accord with 
our ideas, and we scouted it at once. But how to get any 
higher was the question. It was manifestly impossible to 
think of leaping or descending the crevasse, for it was 
enormously wide and deep, and along its brink ran a 
broad coping of snow, upon which we could not safely 
trust ourselves, as it was in a very unsound and dangerous 
state, and we could hear portions of it now and then fall- 
ing into the chasm with a deep and ominous thud. After 
looking about us, the only possible way of crossing it 
seemed to be upon a frail-looking snow-bridge that 
spanned it at some distance to our left. On our right. 
It extended as far as we could see, until the brow 
of a rising terrace of snow hid its continuation from our 
view. However, the bridge looked so dangerous and un- 
inviting that we sent Sig-urdr off to the right, to see if 
he could discover any better way across. Meanwhile we 
sat down at the spot where we had first reached the 
crevasse, and while we were waiting I buried one of my 
thermometers an inch deep under the snow. On taking 
it up again it stood at -4° C, or 24-8 Fahr. Before long ' 
Sigurdr returned, and reported that he could find no 
practicable way in the direction that he had taken, so 
there was no course open to us but to cross the snow- 









bridge on our left. We therefore started again in the 
saml order as before, Sigurdr first, holding the rope, then 
J, and last in the line Shepherd. Cautiously we felt our 
way along the snow-coping, treading in each other's foot- 
steps, and sounding at every step with our alpenstocks. 
We sank knee-deep into the soft snow, through which we 
could easily thrust our alpenstocks. This was dangerous 
work so long as it lasted. On our right hand was the 
wide yawning chasm, too near to be pleasant whilst we 
were treading on such treacherous ground. A foot on our 
left was a steep declivity of snow, at the bottom of which 
opened another wide-gaping crevasse. Every hole made 
by our alpenstocks, and every deep footmark, sparkled with 

a lovely vivid blue. 

Advancing thus, we came to another wide crevasse, 
opening at right angles to that running across our path 
which had proved so great an obstacle. Luckily we found 
a snow-bridge by which we crossed it, though not with- 
out some danger, stamping down the loose snow until it 
became sufficiently close to bear our weight. We then 
found ourselves at the end of the snow-bridge, by which 
we hoped to be able to pass over the large crevasse. It 
looked formidable enough, in the treacherous condition 
of the snow ; for our rope, although a tolerably long one, 
was not long enough to reach across the whole width of 
the crevasse, and for six or seven steps we must all be upon 
the bridge together. But we had no choice, and cautiously 
followed one another over it. In a few minutes we had 
all crossed in safety. From this spot to the Knappr itself 
we found very little real difficulty ; but the snow-slopes 
' were steep ; and since the surface of the snow was by this 
ime much softened, and we generally sank into it ankle 
deep, and often deeper, the walking was rather laborious. 
The few crevasses that were in our path did not give 

us much trouble. Indeed, we had no difficulty until we 
arrived at the brink of a bergschrund, at the distance of 
some fifty yards from the base of the dome. The upper side 
of this was at a considerably higher elevation than that on 
which we stood ; but it was not very wide, and a few fee 
below its mouth, it was further narrowed by a ridge 
snow on each side. Sliding down to that on the near side, 
Sigurdr jumped across the chasm, and, standing on the 
ridge on the other side, cut a few steps in the hard-caked 
snow with the ice-axe, and scrambled up. We followed ; 
and in ten minutes more we were all standing together 
on a narrow ledge of snow at the bottom of a steep 
snow-bank, which clung to the rocks at the foot of the 
Knappr or dome. 

It was now nearly 1.30 p. m. Sigurdr insisted that 
we had reached the summit of the Jokull, and that it 
was impossible to climb any higher. No one ever 
had gone, and no one ever could go higher. However, 
since he knew no more of the top of the mountain than 
we did, and since he had half a dozen times in the 
course of our ascent suggested that we were already 
high enough, we did not put much faith in his opinion. 
We were determined, at least, to do our best to reach the 
top of the dome, though we could not hope to gain much 
by so doing, except the satisfaction of not being thwarted 
in our wish to reach the summit ; for the mist, which had 
partially cleared away in the middle of the day, and 
held out to us tantalising hopes of a fine view, was 
now again fast rolling up the sides of the mountain, and 
must inevitably in a short time envelop it and us in its 
impenetrable thickness. There was evidently not a minute 
to be lost. The only question was, in what way we were 
most likely to succeed. The snow bank, at the foot of 
which we were standing, rose steeply for about fifteen feet 

V '< 


above us. Above it towered almost over our heads, to the 
height of fifty or sixty feet, the perpendicular cliffs which 
form the sides of the Knappr, too steep to allow of any 
snow lodging upon them. Above these, again, rose a thick 
cap of snow, crowning their summit. The northern side 
of the Knappr was, as we had seen from below, less pre- 
cipitous, and was covered with snow. Up this we had 
hoped to be able to find a way ; but now that we were close 
to, and almost within a stone's throw of the actual summit 
of the Jokull, we discovered, to our great disappointment, 
that we were almost as far off as ever from this, the only 
way up the rocks that seemed at all practicable. We 
were cut off from it by a system of wide crevasses in the 
broken snow. To have crossed these we must have 
descended again half-way down the mountain, and made 
a long detour to the left. This we could not possibly 
have done before the fog closed round us. Nothing was 
left, therefore, but to make an attempt from our present 

Shepherd was unfortunately so knocked up by the pace 
we had been walking, and the heat in the early part of the 
day, that for a time he was unfit for any further exertion. 
As for Sigurdr, he was so firm in his conviction that it was 
impossible to climb an inch higher, that he at first refused 
to stir a step. But I knew that every minute of clear 
weather was precious, so without waiting until Shepherd 
had recovered, or Sigurdr would listen to my persuasions, 
I loosed myself from the rope, and determined to see how 
far an ascent was really practicable. The snow-bank was 
very precipitous, and the snow which composed it very 
soft. As I stamped it down to make a firmer footing my 
leg went in more than knee-deep, and it was difficult to 
obtain any hold for my alpenstock, which kept slipping 
through to its full length each time I thrust it before 



me. The ascent was so steep that, as I leant for- 
ward in making a fresh step upwards, my chest almost 
touched the snow opposite; but the bank was not very 
high, and this upstairs work did not last long. When I 
was half-way up the bank, I found that Sigurdr was 
coming up the slope behind me. Practice is better than 
precept ; and when he saw that I was in earnest about 
attempting to reach the top, .he followed. We soon 
came very near to the top of the bank. It was not, as I 
had imagined, leaning against the sides of the dome ; but 
the portion of it nearest to the rocks had melted and fallen 
away from them, leaving' a gap of three feet between 
them and the top of the bank, which was merely a thin 
edge of snow. Leaning against this, and peering over it 
into the gap, I saw that the bank on which we were stand- 
ing was much excavated, and formed a large snow cavern 
beneath us. It was only the uncertain support of the 
roof of this cavern that we had under our feet. It was 
impossible to climb the rocks from this point ; and there- 
fore, descending a short distance down the snow bank, in 
order to obtain a more reliable footing, we kept along' its 
side for about a dozen yards. Here I thought it might 
be possible to scramble up the face of the rocks to a small 
ledge some twenty feet above the snow, and that if I could 
reach this, I saw a chance of being able to climb still 
higher. Sigurdr, who was perhaps right, declared the 
place to be quite impracticable, and would not attempt it. 
However, it seemed to me that here lay our only chance, 
and so I determined not to give up unless fairly beaten. 
I therefore again scaled the snow-bank, and, after some 
difficulty, managed from it to reach a small ledge of rock 
that jutted out at about the same height as the top of 
the snow. But the work of scaling the rocks was no 
easy matter. They were of clay-slate, the laminated 



nature of which had indeed made numerous small shelves 
and edges in their otherwise precipitous face ; but these 
shelves^'were not only so small as to afiford a poor hold 
for hand and foot, but most of them had been so loosened 
by the weather, that they broke off and fell at the 
slightest touch. There is much advantage in having a 
good place to start from when climbing difficult rocks. 
The ledge upon which I was standing was only some 
three inches wide, and the precipice continued below me 
for ten or twelve feet, and there ended in a great shoulder 
of rocks, bulging out into the snow at their base. I 
managed, however, to climb up the rocks to a height of 
about fifteen feet above the top of the snow-bank ; but it 
was quite impossible to climb higher, owing to the very 
loose and broken state of the laminated shelves. 

In descending again, I narrowly escaped a dangerous 
fall from the giving way of the ledge upon which I was 
standing, but I eventually managed to regain the top of 
the snow-bank in safety. Sigurdr, who had meantime 
kept along it some way farther, now came back, and re- 
ported that the rocks were just as steep there as where 
I had attempted them. On his return, he found me in 
rather an absurd and awkward position. I was sitting 
astride the edge of the snow-bank, without being able to 
stir. My alpenstock, which I had been holding too 
loosely, had slipped out of my hand through the roof of 
snow into the cavern beneath, and without it I could not 
very well descend the bank of loose snow. Sigurdr helped 
me out of this predicament, and recovered my alpenstock 
for me : it had luckily lodged between the rocks and 
snow at no great distance down. The fog was now gather- 
ing thickly round us, and obliged us to give up further 
attempts to reach the summit. 

Descending, therefore, to the bottom of the snow-bank. 



we rejoined Shepherd, and, roping ourselves together again, 
at 2.5 P.M. turned our backs upon the Knappr, not a little 
disappointed at our failure. I am by no means sure 
that the dome is equally impracticable on every side; 
although, if Paulson actually reached the foot of it (of 
which there is some doubt, from the account of his ascent 
quoted in Henderson's book), then the summit would 
appear to be equally inaccessible on the S. E. side. A 
traveller attempting to ascend the Knappr from Knappa- 
vellir would be most likely to succeed by crossing the ice 
from the shingle plateau in a N.W, direction for about a 
mile, and then turning up the mountain. I am inclined 
to think, however, that a better view of the interior of the 
Vatna Jokull would be obtained from Hvanna-dals-nukr, 
which should be ascended from Svina-fell. We cannot be 
said to have had any view at all : the fog shut out the 
distance, and we saw even less than during our stroll the 
previous day. Nor could I discover any traces of the 
crater mentioned by Paulson, although we must have 
been very close to the spot from which he observed it. It 
is possible that it has long since been filled up by snow. 
Our descent was rapid. We left the ice at 3.15 p.m., by 
which time we could only see a few yards before us, so 
thick was the mist, and we reached the thorpe again at 
5 o'clock,— our expedition having only occupied eight 
hours and twenty minutes. 

August 13/A.— The weather was again hopelessly bad, 
and, anxious as we were again to attempt the Jokull, we 
could not afford to wait for its clearing up, and had to 
pursue our journey eastwards. With Sigurdr as our 
fylgdar-madr, we started for Eeyni-vellir at 9 a. m. 

The grass-lands of Knappa-vellir were soon passed, and 
then we came upon a flat tract of stony ground, the 
shingle which composed it being made up of bits of lava. 

I V 


It , 



pumice, slag, tuff, and obsidian. This plain, called 
Knappa-vellir Sandr, extended on the S. to the sea, and 
was bounded on the N. by the precipitous mountains 
that flank the Oroefa Jokull. These were separated 
from one another by steep narrow ravines, above which the 
weather-broken rocks beetled to an immense height. Down 
the ravines abrupt and declivitous glaciers descended to 
the plain. After traversing the level tract of Knappa-vellir 
Sandr, our road descended a sloping hill, partially covered 
with moss, and we entered the Breida-merkr Sandr, one of 
those flat, dreary plains of sand which border the coast, 
more or less, beneath the whole length of the Yatna Jokull. 
The farm of Kvisker is a little oasis in this desert, the rest 
of the plain being quite barren. Near Kvisker the Oroefa 
Jokull and Breida-merkr Jokull are united ; — indeed they 
are, strictly speaking, the same Jokull : for although they, 
as many other parts of the Vatna Jokull, are distinguished 
by particular names, yet in reality all these parts form but 
one enormous tract of ice, extending from the Skaptar 
Jokull on the W. to the Heina-bergs Jokull on the E., a 
distance of sixty or seventy miles. 

Unlike the Oroefa, the Breida-merkr Jokull is not a 
mountain, but rather an ice-plain, which nowhere rises to 
the height of more than 300 or 400 feet above the sea level. 
At its W. or lower end it terminates in a steep short incline, 
unlike either the terminal wall of the Skeidara Jokull or the 
marginal slopes of the Merkr Jokull. This incline appears 
to be the natural shape of the glacier, and not the result 
of accident. Its base rests upon a hill of shingle and gravel 
raised above the rest of the Sandr, which is easily dis- 
tinguishable from an ordinary terminal moraine, and has 
apparently been ploughed up by the Jokull in its advance 
towards the sea. It is flat at the top for a short distance 
from the ice, and then slopes down to the sand beneath, the 



slope being covered with heather and moss. As we pro- 
ceeded, the margin of the Jokull became more irregular in 
shape, consisting of immense blocks of ice sometimes almost 
perpendicular as a wall, at others fallen about in shapeless 
disorder. But, as a rule, the ice near the margin was not 
much fissured, whilst the surface of the glacier more in the 
interior of the Jokull was broken into large cubical blocks, 
that gave it a very irregular appearance. The ice was slightly 
coloured, being for the most part remarkably white, like that 
of the Svina-fell glacier, and, with the exception of the part 
close to its margin, was not at all discoloured with sand 
or grit. As we rode along, I observed one or two moraines. 
They come from the Breida-merkr-muli, a curious grass- 
covered mountain, which stands alone in the middle of the 
Jokull, — a green island in a sea of ice,— at the distance 
of about a mile from its margin. The sheep of a neigh- 
bouring farm are sent over the ice every summer to this 
mountain to graze. In one place, near the margin of the 
Jokull, were a number of ice-cones coated with black sand. 
The appearance of a group of these black sugarloaf-shaped 
cones upon the white ice was very remarkable. They 
were of all sizes, from fifteen feet downwards. 

Henderson describes the Breida-merkr Jokull as being 
subject to remarkable fluctuations. Near its S.E. corned, 
he discovered a track, made only eight days before 
his arrival, lost and swallowed up in the ice ; and the ice 
had, at that time, evidently advanced a considerable dis- 
tance beyond its bounds of fifty years before. I could 
not learn from any one who Hved in the immediate neigh- 
bourhood of the Jokull that it now shows any perceptible 
changes in its dimensions. The only person who spoke 
of its advance at the present time was one of the priests 
at Hof, who told me that it had certainly advanced towards 
the sea during the last ten years. But my own observa- 

VOL. I. J. 



tions 33 to the position of the Jokiill, according as they 
do with the clear descriptions of Henderson (written in 
1815), and the accurate map of Gunnlaugsson (published 
in 1845), make me doubt how far this information is to be 
relied upon. The Jokull is seen in the shape of a large 
semicircle. Its centre part projects towards the sea, anddi- 
minishes the width of the Breida-merkr Sandr from four or 
five miles to that of one. Across the narrowest part of the 
Sandr, the Jokulsa a Breida-merkr Sandr, generally reputed 
as the most dangerous river in Iceland, rushes from the 
Jokull with resistless impetuosity. We reached this river 
at 2.30 P.M., and as we approached it, it certainly looked 
as if it deserved the character it bears. It is sometimes 
possible to avoid fording the river by crossing the ice of 
the Jokull above it. This is the only way by which sheep 
can be taken from one side of the river to the other ; but, 
although it is generally practicable for sheep, and persons 
on foot, it is very seldom that horses can cross. Sigurdr, 
however, thought it worth while to make a reconnais- 
sance ; and as, on his return, he pronounced it impossible, 
we were obliged to cross the river in the usual way. I 
shall not a second time recount the adventures of the 
passage of an Icelandic Jokulsa ; suffice it to say, that 
we found the Jokuls4 ^ Breida-merkr Sandr little less 
dangerous than the Skeidara. Both rivers were of neariy 
the same breadth, and in both the current was strong, and 
shoals of ice were being carried down. We reached the 
eastern shore of the Jokulsd at 3.30, having been about 
three-quarters of an hour in crossing. Our road at 
times led us very near the sea, and the whole coast for 
miles was strewn with bleached and bleaching pieces of 
driftwood, chiefly pine logs, many of which still retained 
the stumps of their branches. These logs are said to come 
from the wrecks of Norwegian timber vessels, which have 



foundered from time to time in the Northern Sea; but 
they are too numerous to be thus accounted for, and 
some must, I think, be drifted from the Norwegian coast. 
The quantity is so great, that not only does it serve the 
people for firewood, but they also build and repair their 
houses with it. The priest at Bjarna-nes, where the church 
had been newly restored, informed me that the repairs 
had been made wholly of timber cut from driftwood found 
upon the coast near the spot. After continuing our mo- 
notonous ride over the dreary Breida-merkr Sandr for two 


hours and a half from the Jokulsa, we came to a place 
where the Jokull takes a sharp turn towards the N.E. 
It continues this direction for a short distance only, when 
its continuity is interrupted by Fell, a high rocky moun- 
tain, ending in steep beetling crags, and split in two from 
top to bottom by an enormous fissure. The disrupted cliff 
looks as if it might at any minute fulfil an old prophecy, 
— that it shall some day topple over, and annihilate the 
little farm at its base. 

p 2 





We reached Eeyni-vellir at 6.10 r.M. Soon afterwards 
the clouds cleared off from the Oroefa Jokull, and we ob- 
tained a fine view of its summit and snowy slopes. 

August 14^^.— We were in the saddle again, aad started 
for Bjarna-nes at 8.35 a.m.: the morning was as warm and 
sunny as could be wished. For the first part of our way 
we rode beneath a mountain range, that extends along the 
south of the Jokulls, and bars their progress into the 
plain. The south sides of these mountains form impos- 
ing precipices, that, coming sheer down into the valley 
below, terminate in grassy banks, strewn with masses of 
rock that have fallen from the cliffs above, amidst which 
the flocks were browsing. The cliffs are much broken by 
the weather at their summits, and Echo makes them her 
favourite haunt, judging from the frequent response she 
sent back to the baying of the Eeyni-vellir dogs. The grassy 
slopes beneath them are bright with buttercups, w^hite 
clover flowers, campanulas, and forget-me-nots, all growing 
in great luxuriance. Leaving these mountains behind, 
W€ rode across a broad tract of sand towards Kalfa-fell- 
stadr, near which we had much difficulty in crossing the 


After passing these, our road led us close to the sea, 
round the point of a projecting mountain called Hestr- 
gerdis-nukr. High up in the cliffs of this mountain 
is a very singular-looking group of red basaltic organ- 
pipes, arranged with great regularity of structure, though 
bulging out considerably from the face of the rock. Soon 
aft«r 5 o'clock we reached Holtar, a farm which stands 
in a large marshy plain on the W. bank of the Horna- 
fljot, a broad glacier stream flowing from the Heina- 
bergs Jokull. Here we had to engage a fresh guide to 
take us across the river, which is about two miles in width, 
and has a sandy bottom, in which are said to be many 

quicksands. The road across it was marked out by stones 
and poles stuck in the water, and we found no great diffi- 
culty in fording it. The water was not in any place deeper 
than up to our horses' girths, and the stream was not swift. 
Far away on our left were several long brown mountain 
ridges, running back from the plain for two or three miles 
into the white Jokull, which came down between them in 
a broad fan-shape stream, spreading out considerably as 
it approached the plain. Other ridges jutted out into the 
valleys between the Jokull and the sea. At the base of 
one of these lay Bjarna-nes, the centre of a great number 
of farms that lined the green shore of the Horna-fljot. 
We reached it at 6.50 p.m., and pitched our tent in the 
tun adjoining the priest's house. 

August I5th. — We were unwillingly detained at Bjarna- 
nes the whole day by a raging storm of wind and rain, 
whose fury it was impossible to think of facing. Our host 
called it ^'Pai^us imberJ'^ Parvus imher^ indeed ! A 
north-easterly gale tearing over the mountain-tops made 
his whole house quiver in its blast, whilst the rain swept 
past in almost vertical torrents, ever hurried onwards to- 
wards the dark cloud-shrouded Jokull. For half the night 
the wind shook the canvas walls of our tent as though it 
would tear them into shreds, and drove the rain through 
them in showers. When we were awake, — and the night 
was not such as to leave our sleep altogether undisturbed, 
— ^we were in momentary expectation of seeing the fasten- 
ings give way, or the pole snap, and of having the wet 
canvas flapping about our ears; but pegs and pole held 
out bravely. In the morning we found the ground on 
which we were lying a perfect pool of water, and we 
were fairly driven out of the tent, and fled for refuge 
to the church. 

The churches are, as I have said, commonly used for 




the reception of travellers ; they are usually built of wood, 
but often have the additional protection of a thick turf 
wall : with the difference of being built of wood only, or 
of wood and turf together, they are, with few exceptions, 
of the same type everywhere throughout the island. They 
are small oblong buildings, with no more architectural 
design than a bam. The entrance is at one end, and from 
it a passage between rows of open seats leads to a square 
space at the other, in one corner of which stands the pulpit, 
and in the middle the altar-table is railed in. Above the 
altar there is generally hanging, or painted on the wooden 
wall itself, a rudely daubed picture. The one here repre- 
sents the Crucifixion : the scene is laid in a valley between 
snow-covered mountains, with a large house on the left, for- 
cibly reminding me of a print that I have seen of the Great 
St. Bernard Pass. Sometimes, though less frequently, the 
panels of the pulpit are also painted. The churches are 
often so low, that the head of a person standing in the 
pulpit is above the beams which support the roof. Some 
of them have a loft running half-way down their length 
above the beams, used as a repository for the saddles, 
nets, dresses, and such like things of the families who live 
at the houses adjoining; where there is no such loft, the 
things are hung upon the beams themselves, or on nails 
driven into the walls. It seemed strange at first to use 
the churches as sleeping and living rooms; but we soon 
got used to it, generally making up our beds in the space 
on each side of the altar-rails. And since the churches 
are in most places kept in good repair, and are usually 
cleaner and more airy than the houses, we always pre- 
ferred them to sleep in, when we left our tent for the 
shelter of a roof. 

August 16th, — Although the hurricane had somewhat 
abated its rage, yet the wind was still strong and furious ; 



but not enough so to deter us from proceeding. We left 
Bjarna-nes at 11.30 A. m., and after skirting the hills to the 
N.E. for some distance, turned towards the S.E. across 
the Laxar-dalr, a large, flat valley, for the most part fer- 
tile, but in places sandy and barren. About 1 p.m. we 
reached the little farm of Thinga-nes, which lies beneath 
a high and steep ridge of mountains, that, running out 
from the base of the Heina-bergs Jokull, continues in a 
southerly direction to the sea, there ending in the point 
called Vestra-horn (West Foreland). Under this ridge, 
which forms a complete barrier between Laxar-dalr and 
the country to the E., we rode for some distance over 
rough, rocky ground, close to the sea. Sometimes the 
rocks were strewn so thickly that we were obliged to ride 
into the water to find a passage. After half an hour 
over this sort of ground, we suddenly turned towards the 
N.E., up a steep narrow path, which led obliquely up 
the face of an almost precipitous slope in the ridge, to the 
Almanna-skard (All men's gap), a mountain pass,1by which 
alone the range can be crossed. The mountain side, up 
which the path rims, consists of loose rocky debris, and 
stones, which have fallen from the heights above, that 
ever threaten to sweep it with fresh avalanches. The 
horses, as they passed along, set in motion, and sent clat- 
tering down the mountain, heaps of loose debris. Sure- 
footed as they were, it required all their agility to prevent 
themselves from sliding down with the slipping ground 
they trod upon. On reaching the top of the'' pass we 
came to a mountain valley, which sloped gradually down 
towards the N.E. to a level plain lying at the base of 
the range. The mountains on each side were very fine, 
many of them consisting of immense, perfectly-shaped 
ppamids of whitish basalt. Eiding down into the valley, 
we passed, along the shores of Papa-fjordr, a narrow bay, 

' i 


extending for many miles along the coast, and bounded 
seawards by a long flat bar of sand, which runs in an 
almost unbroken line between Vestra-horn (West Fore- 
land) and Eystra-horn (East Foreland). 

When we reached Vola-sel, a farm in the plain, we had 
to obtain the services of the farmer to guide us across 
the often dangerous Jokulsa i Loni. He was out in his 
hay-grounds when we arrived, but, on being summoned, 
at once left his work. As his horse had to be caught 
and saddled, we accepted his invitation to come into 
his house and take cofiee. The house was the poorest 
that I saw anywhere in Iceland, and very dirty. En- 
tering it through the low door in the thick turf wall, 
we stepped down to the floor of the low-roofed entrance- 
passage, which, as in all Icelandic houses, was sunk a foot 
or two below the level of the ground outside, for the sake 
of warmth. After groping our way along this passage in 
complete darkness, we came to a door which led us up a 
pair of steps into the general living and sleeping room of 
the whole family. It was a long, low, narrow, mud-floored 
room, along one side of which was placed a row of low 
bed-straddles, covered with thin mattresses and coverlids. 
Here slept all the family — men, women, and children — 
in the same room. Everything in it bore unmistakable 
signs of squalid poverty. 

Upon the beds were lolling two or three girls, and as many 
children were playing on the mud floor. In one corner 
was a fire, over which the goodwife was stooping, engaged 
in cooking something, which did not improve the stifling 
atmosphere of the room. The only light that found its way 
into the chamber at all, struggled faintly through a little 
glass pane, placed high up in the four-foot thick turf wall, 
and no air conld enter except through the door and along 
the passage. Passing through this room, we were shown 



into another about six feet square, containing a small 
table, a bedstead, and a wooden chest, as its only ftirni- 
ture. On pegs in the walls were hung the clothes, &c., of 
the diff'erent members of the family, and upon the window- 
ledge stood the bottle of corn brandy and its one com- 
panion wine-glass, which are almost always to be seen in 
the guest-room of every Icelandic farm-house. The window 
itself was rendered impervious to the weather, by being 
made so fast as to defy all attempts at opening it. The 
closeness in both these rooms was intolerable, and we were 
glad to escape again into the open air. In front of the 
house a large heap of Icelandic moss (Fjalla-gros) was 
drying for winter use. 

The Jokulsd was much flooded, and we had to ride two 
or three miles up the valley before we were able to cross 
it ; which, however, we did without difiiculty, although its 
width is considerable. After riding some distance across 
the flat plain, through which the Jokulsd runs, at 8.15 p.m. 
we entered the tun of the priest of Stafa-fell, and again 
took up our quarters in the church. The priest himself 
was not at home when we first arrived, but on his return 
he at once came out to welcome us. " Salve, domine ! " I 
hear, shouted out in a jovial voice, as I stand in the church- 
yard, and, turning round, see his reverence in his shirt- 
sleeves, and hatless, his long gray hair tossed about in the 
still furious wind. " Salve, domine ! " and he grasped my 
hand with the cordiality of an old friend, nearly tumbling 
headlong into me, as he stumbled over a grave in his 
eagerness to welcome me. Then, after putting some 
question to Olaver, and making a remark to himself sotto 
voce, away he rushed again, and, diving through the low 
doorway of his house, soon reappeared, followed by two of 
his women-servants, struggling against the wind towards 
the church, beneath mattresses and beds of eider down. 






By the time our beds had been made to our host's satis- 
faction, it was quite dark, and he lighted for us the 
two large tallow candles which stood in massive brass 
candlesticks upon the altar. Then away he dashed into 
the darkness, again to appear after a short time, when, 
seizing one of the candlesticks, and bidding Olaver take 
the other, with more words of welcome he invited us into 
his house, and we were soon seated at his table, supping 
off a well-cooked dish of mutton, washed down with copious 
draughts of warm new milk. 

August nth,— ''Bonus dies, clomine!'' shouted our host, 
whilst yet a dozen yards off, as he skipped over the gTaves 
towards us, soon after we were up. He then invited us to 
come in and take coffee and breakfast — for in Iceland 
coffee always comes before breakfast. Indeed, it properly 
comes the very first thing in the morning. Whenever a 
guest passes a night in an Icelandic house, lie is awoke in 
the morning by the entrance into his room of one of the 
women of the house (generally the wife or daughter of his 
host), with a cup of coffee and a rusk, which she deposits 
by his bed- side. 

The priest sat down to breakfast with us, and we chatted 
away of England and Iceland as fast as we could make 
each other understand. When, after breakfast, we were 
starting again on our journey, all the family came to see 
us off, and we found that the priest and two of his sons 
intended to ride some way with us. When we bade adieu 
to our kind entertainers. Shepherd made one of the boys 
a present of a knife, and narrowly escaped being kissed 
by all the family circle in token of their gratitude. 

A curious mountain forms the principal feature in the 
view from Stafa-fell. It is the end one of the range that 
runs out to the Vestra-horn, and is split into three irre- 
gular pyramids,— the two outside leaning over towards 

the centre. It is several miles distant from Stafa-fell, on 
the other side of a perfectly flat plain. 

After riding with us for some distance, the priest turned 
back with one of his sons, leaving the other to guide us to 
Hof, where he advised us to stay the night, promising us 
that we should find the priest there a " vir egregius,'^ 

When we reached the eastern end of the plain, in which 
Stafa-fell is situated, our path took us over a rugged field 
of rocks, which lay at the foot of the mountains, and ex- 
tended quite down to the sea ; so that, in several places, 
we again found it better to ride through the water. Leaving 
the plain, we ascended a rocky way up the mountains, by 
the side of a pretty stream, full of leaping falLs and rocky 
pools and rapids, to the top of Lons-heidi. Near the top, 
a good-sized fall of water leaped over the rocks into a dark 
pool beneath, a depth of thirty or forty feet. As we ap- 
proached the summit of the pass, a cold misty rain began 
to fall, which, driven by furious gusts right into our 
faces, prevented us from seeing far into the dreary waste 
of the Heidi. 

After some time we descended from the high ground 
into the plain of Starmyra, lying to the E. of the moun- 
tains we had just crossed. In the descent, our road 
ran by the side of a dark and boisterous mountain tor- 
rent, that rushed down from the hills between high walls 
of rock, and flashed over many a foam-whitened rapid. 
At more than one spot, I observed running out from these 
walls very striking basaltic dykes ; and near the bottom of 
the descent we had to ride down a natural staircase, over 
the tops of upright basaltic columns, which few but Ice- 
landic horses could have managed to descend. It was very 
like riding down the steps at the Giant's Causeway. After 
galloping across a sandy plain, washed by a Jokulsa, which 
flows from Hofs Jokull, we arrived at Hof about 5.30 p.m. 


[ 1 



As we approached the house, the boy rode on to tell the 
priest of our arrival, and no sooner had we pulled up close 
by the tun, than a rather short, elderly man, who turned out 
to be his reverence in person, rushed out of the house to- 
wards us with outstretched hands, shouting at the top of his 
voice, " Engelskman vescou ! Velcom Engelskman ! In 
domicilium meum vescou!'' We dismounted, and fol- 
lowed him in, and were soon at home with the hearty old 
gentleman, who seemed quite delighted to have us there, 
and before long had placed before us a substantial supper 
of fish,— soles, flappers, and hard-dried cod. 

The "vir egregius'' had forgotten most of his Latin; 
but he still remembered a few words, and with the sweep- 
ing invitation of " omnium honum'" he invited us to accept 
his hospitality. According to Icelandic custom, we were 
waited on by the wife and daughter of our host,— the 
former a large-sized, kindly matron, though not a little 
dirty ; the latter a stout blooming girl of one or two and 
twenty, who looked as if she had all the health of Iceland 
in her rosy cheeks. We talked of Henderson, of whom 
the old priest had never heard — of Graimard, whose expe- 
dition in 1836 he well remembered — and of Col. Shaff- 
ner's and Dr. Kae's Atlantic Telegraph expedition of the 
year before (1860), of which he had heard from the people 
at Djupi-vogr. He himself had never seen an Englishman 
before, and we were great objects of interest to him and 
his wife, who, when not employed in waiting, stood behind 
his chair, and from time to time took a pinch of snuff from 
out of her husband's proffered box. We contrived to carry 
on a lengthened conversation in as much Icelandic as we 
were masters of, interlarded with Latin words and sen- 

The Icelandic priests neither talk nor understand 
Latin so well as I had anticipated, —indeed, very few of 



them could speak it at all grammatically, and most of them 
knew only a few words. Their attempts were often very 
amusing ; but the most amusing of these futile efforts 
was made by a priest living in the eastern district, at 
whose house we stopped one night. He was a farmer, like 
most of his brother priests, and had heard or read of the 
efficacy of mowing machines, and was ambitious enough 
to wish for one himself; not thinking, simple man, but 
that they would cut the little thin crop of an Icelandic 
tun, as well as they lay the long, heavy grass swathes of 
an American prairie or an English meadow. He in- 
troduced the subject in these words — " Suntne in Ame- 
rique machinum graminuTn ex'plorandumV — a sen- 
tence which I should probably have had some difficulty 
in interpreting, if it had not been accompanied by an 
explanatory gesture. But for his excuse, I must say that 
he did not profess to have kept up his classical learning, 
or, to give you his own words, " multum neglexi Latinum 

When bed-time came our host offered us a bed either 
^' in domicilium meum'' or "m templum Dei." Upon 
our choosing the latter, he sent out mattresses for us into 
the church, and made up very comfortable beds there. 
Just as we were getting into bed, the blooming daughter 
made her appearance with a large basin of new milk, 
which she deposited on one of the seats near the altar, and 
then, wishing us good night, left us to our dreams. 

August ISth, — Being Sunday, we stopped the whole day 
at Hof. At breakfast we were joined by a son of our host, 
a young man who was also a priest. Yesterday he was out 
making hay in the marshes near the sea, and only returned 
home late at night. The day was stormy, and the priests 
in consequence did not expect that any body would come 
to church; but nevertheless, about 1 p.m., several men 







r ' 

1; I 

• * 

having ridden up for mass, the old priest sent a man out 
to ring the church bell, whilst he changed his dress and pre- 
pared^imself to perform it. Since the nearest house was 
at a distance of two or three miles off, the bell was not likely 
to collect a congregation ; but a few more persons ar- 
rived before service commenced. As each of them entered 
the room in which we were sitting, the bottle of cognac 
that stood on the window-sill, with its one companion wine- 
glass, was in constant requisition : for the old priest 
treated each member of his congi'egation, as he arrived, 
with a glass of cognac, helping himself each time he did 
so to a like potion by applying his own mouth to that of 

the bottle. 

In Iceland, owing to the distance at which most of the 
people live from the church, there is only one service on 
Sundays, and it begins about mid-day, or as soon after- 
wards as a sufficient number of persons to form a 
conoreffation have arrived. On this occasion, as soon as 
half a dozen persons had collected together, our host, 
followed by his congregation, went into the church. We 
were detained in the house by his son for a quarter of an 
hour after the service had commenced, and I was on the 
point of reminding him of his promise to show us where 
we should sit in church, when the cause of the delay 
was cleared up by the appearance of his sister with a 
cup of coffee for each of us. We had only been wait- 
ing for this; and having finished it, were at once con- 
ducted into the church, our bed-room of last night. We 
found our host (the vir egregius\ standing within 
the altar-rails, dressed in surplice and stole, with a 
large red and gold cross upon his back. The altar was 
covered with a worked cloth, and the two candles upon it 
were liorhted. The Icelanders are in creed Lutherans, and 
almost the whole of their church service is chanted, — the 

priest sometimes singing a solo, at others the congregation 
joining in the chant with him. The congregation took 
their part in the singing with greater goodwill than 
harmony ; but throughout the service they all appeared to 
be very attentive. We were much amused by a little in- 
cident that took place. Whilst the service was going on 
a servant-girl from the house entered the church, and 
took down from the pegs on which they were hanginf^ two 
bundles, covered with coloured handkerchiefs, which from 
their shape evidently contained bonnets. She carried these 
out of the church, and soon afterwards we saw our host's 
wife and daughter come in, each wearing a bonnet of the 
latest Copenhagen fashion, surmounted by quite a garden of 
artificial flowers. After the sermon, which came near the 
end of the service, there were a few short chants, and 
then, having dismissed the congregation with a blessing, 
the priest took oflf his vestments, and shook hands with 
us, one after another, all round ; the bell was then again 
rung, and we all left the church. 

August I9th, — We started again this morning under 
the guidance of the young priest, who kindly volunteered 
to ride with us half our day's journey, and show us the 
way. We first rode down to the lower end of the valley 
in which Hof is situate, thence we passed along the sides 
of bold rocky hills running out between Alfta-fjordr and 
Hamars-fjordr. The latter is a very pretty and bright- 
looking bay, lying in a semicircular basin of green 
terraced mountains. Seawards it is protected by several 
groups of small islands, studding its entrance. Be- 
yond these we could see the white-crested coursers of the 
ocean driven furiously along by an easterly gale. The 
blue waters of the fjordr beneath us seemed to be uncon- 
scious of the raging wind. Their bosom only heaved 
gently, like that of one in a calm sleep. But round the 




comers of the mountain the wind blew so tremendously, 
that sometimes we could scarcely make way against it, and 
the waterfalls above us, many of them of no inconsiderable 
size, were actually blown upwards and dispersed in spray, 
without appearing ever to come to the bottom of the cliffs. 
At the head of the fjordr we had to cross a deep, though 
not dangerous river; on its eastern bank stands the farm 
of Hamar, which gives the fjordr its name. We reached 
it at 3.30 P.M., after a ride of five hours from Hof. Here 
the priest bade us farewell and started back home. We 
engaged the farmer to be our guide to Beru-fjordr, and 
proceeded along the N. side of the fjordr as far as Hals, 
which was the first place where we could cross the steep 
mountain range which separates Hamars-fjordr and Beru- 
fjordr. About three miles from Hamar our road crossed 
a steep slope, called Kauda-skrida, consisting of red vol- 
canic debris, the pieces of which looked very much like 
bits of broken tiles and burnt earth. Two miles further 
on we came to Hals ; here we turned up a steep track, that 
led us across the mountains and descended into the valley 
of Beru-fjordr, some two miles above the little Danish 
settlement of Djupi-vogr (Deep Bay). From the top of 
the pass we could just see the masts of a ship safely riding 
at anchor in the harbour, heedless of the gale that raged 
outside. Djupi-vogr is (I was informed) at present a very 
small settlement, containing only three or four houses ; but, 
being the first safe harbour along the southern coast to 
the E. of Cape Eeykja-nes, it is an important place. 
We proceeded along the shore of the fjordr in a N.E. 
direction towards its head. It is bounded on both sides 
by steep mountains ; from those beneath which we were 
riding, large masses of rock had fallen down, and strewn 
our path with their debris, or rolled on into the water, and 
become gardens for the seaweed which clung to them in 


tangled meshes, and under their cover were flocks of 
eider-ducks sheltering themselves from the wind. We 
reached the farm of Beru-fjordr, at the head of the fjordr, 
soon after 9 p.m.; and after a supper, in the house, off 
salmon-trout and eider-ducks' eggs hard-boiled, we made 
up our beds and turned in to sleep in the church. 


August 20th.~The morning was fine, although lio-ht 
clouds of mist hung about the tops of the mountaL. 
The calm blue fjordr, running away seawards beneath its 
green terraced hills, looked very lovely. The tops of the 
hills on the N. side of it are weather-worn and serrated 
here and there rising in rocky aiguilles and minarets 
encircled, when we saw them, with wreaths of snow. 

We left the farm at 10.40 a.m., and ascended a very 
steep hill close behind it to the N. This ascent was so 
difficult that we were obliged to dismount ; but the way 
in which our horses climbed was astonishing. Now they 
were on steep slippery rocks -now they followed one 
another along an almost overhanging track - now they 
zigzagged up banks of loose soil, and in some places we could 
only scramble up after them on all-fours. On this hill we 
found a great number of zeolites. These are beautiful 
crystals, circular in shape, and having bars or spicula, often 
as fine and delicate as hairs, radiating from a common 
centre to their circumference. It is not uncommon to find 
two of them connected at the circumference. When broken 
they generally form very pretty segments, terminating in 
pyramidical points. 

VOL. I. 







As the day advanced it became like one of those dull days, 
not uncommon in our English autumns, which colour every- 
thing with a cold grey tint. Such a day exactly suited the 
scenery that surrounded us when we reached the top of the 
mountain. We found ourselves upon an extensive heidi, 
called Breid-dals-heidi, for the most part a flat, uninterest- 
ing wa^te of sandy and stony ground. Every^vhere, from 
the withered grass in the sand marshes close at hand, to the 
stony hills in the distance, the whole of the country that 
we could see assumed the same dull grey-brown colour. 
The only relief to the eye was in the vividly green patches 
of moss that grew here and there. At length we came to 
the Mula^, a small rocky stream, running in a northerly 
direction. The mountain which, on the side of our ascent, 
rose almost precipitously to the height of nearly 1300 
feet above the sea, sloped gently down towards the N., 
and we followed the course of the Mulaa for nearly eight 
miles before we reached a small lake which lay at its foot. 
Here, for the first time in the day, we were able to put 
our horses into a gallop, and in about an hour reached a 
field on the banks of the river, where a great number 
of men and women were at work hay-making. Amongst 
them oiu- fylgdar-madr recognised the priest of Thing- 
muli, at which place we intended to stop the night. The 
priest, when he heard of our intention and who we were, 
immediately had his horse saddled and rode home with 
us, where he made us welcome with all the hospitality 
his house could afford. He was a well-read and gentle- 
manly man, and talked Latin grammatically and fluently. 
He could not speak English, nor understand it when spoken, 
but he had read a little of it ; and from out of his small 
store of books he produced " The Vicar of Wakefield," and 
two or three other English books, and was very glad to get 
a lesson in English reading from us. 

Dr. Rae and Col. Shaffner had passed a night in his house 
the previous year (1860) whilst on their expedition in con- 
nection with the North Atlantic Telegraph, and our host 
was especially interested in the success of the adventure ; 
being very anxious that the line selected should be that 
which has been proposed along the N. of the Vatna Jokiill, 
although he was somewhat sceptical as to its practicability. 
We again made the church our sleeping quarters. 

August 2lst — The morning was very bright and warm, 
and the sharp lines that marked the edges of the lights and 
shadows on the mountains and in the valleys produced a 
very beautiful effect. 

Thing-muli lies at the foot of a steep mull, between the 
fork formed by the confluence of two streams, which, after 
descending separate valleys, are here united. The river 
thus formed flows northwards down a long narrow dale, 
inclosed by steep mountain-ridges. Such dales and moun- 
tain-ridges form the principal feature of the eastern 
district of the country. Any one who looks at a map of 
Iceland will see that the E. and N.E. part of it is tran- 
sected by numerous rivers, flowing northwards in lono* 
straight courses. These are, in most instances, glacier 
streams, originating in the Vatna JokuU. The valleys 
down which they flow are generally narrow and deep, and 
are separated from one another by mountain-ridges, 
formed by spurs projecting from the high-lands in the in- 
terior of the island. The sides of these ridges are steep 
and bold. Their tops are often table-lands, and for the 
most part barren; but the valleys are fertilised by the 
rivers, and the mountains on each side have long trian- 
gular strips of vegetation running up them. 

We started from Thing-muli at 10.40 a.m., and after a 
pleasant ride for four or five miles down the valley, crossed 
the ridge on our left, and descended through a forest of 


G 2 






low dwarf birch trees to Hallorm-stadr, a farm situate on 
the E. bank of Lagar Fljot. The Fljot is a glacier 
stream, which, a few miles to the S. of Hallorm-stadr, 
widens into a narrow lake, having little or no current. 
It retains the same character for a long distance towards 
the N. The whole of the district in its vicinity is 
thickly studded with farms, and is considered one of the 
most flourishing parts of the island. The pasturage 
grounds here are fertile and extensive, and the large 
forests of birch-wood afford to the inhabitants opportuni- 
ties of obtaining a supply of fuel such as few of their 
countrymen can enjoy. 

From Hallorm-stadr we rode up the course of the 
stream through a very extensive forest of dwarf birch — 
extensive for an Icelandic forest, — for in England we 
should scarcely deign to call it more than a grove. The 
trees in it, however, were the tallest that I saw in 
Iceland, some of them being at least twenty feet high. 

At the top of Lagar Fljot the river is deep and the 
current strong, and the only way to cross it is by swim- 
ming the horses. But by going three miles farther up the 
valley, we forded it without difficulty above its junction 
with one of its tributaries. 

We reached Valthjof-stadr at 5.15 p.m., and were, as 
usual, kindly received by the priest. His hospitality was 
not confined to giving us a good supper and providing us 
with well-made beds in the church, but, as we were on the 
point of retiring for the night, he brought us into the 
church a whole box full of cigars, and, having deposited 
them on a window-sill within our reach, bade us good 
night. He had seen us smoking a short time previously, 
and imagined that we might be " smoke-hungry " again 
before morning. 

Auf/ust 22nd. — We were delayed some time by one of 

our horses having strayed during the night. When at length 
we had found the truant, we started again, accompanied by 
the priest and one of his sons, who acted as our guide. 
The day was bleak and windy, and Snse-fell, whose fine, 
pointed top we had seen the previous day standing out 
cold and white against the faultless blue sky, was now 
shrouded in clouds. After riding about four miles up the 
valley on the W. bank of the river, we turned sharply to 
the right, and with much difficulty climbed a steep 
zit^zao'crina; ascent up the ridge on that side. At the top 
we found an extensive barren plain. Over this we rode 
for more than four hours, passing several small lakes. 
Our route was marked out by vardar, small heaps of 
stones ; much of it was over sand and stony land, but in 
places the ground was swampy. We descended from the 
ridge by a path almost as steep as our ascent had been, 
and at 6.45 p.m. we reached a little farm called Vad-brekka, 
in the valley beneath. Here the priest and his son bade us 
farewell ; but the priest insisted upon our stopping to take 
a parting cup of coffee with him, and this delayed us so 
lono- that we did not reach the Jokulsa a Bru, which is 
only half an hour's ride from Vad-brekka, until 8.15 p.m., 
when it was beginning to get dusk. 

The farm of Bru (Bridge), where we intended to stay 
the night, was on the far side of the Jokulsa,which is here 
about seventy feet broad, and flows with a strong current. 
The channel of the river is deep ; its sides are formed by 
rocky precipices of from twenty to thirty feet in height 
above the water. Opposite to Brii, a klafr, or swing-bridge, 
is thrown across the chasm, but it would only carry us and 
our baggage across, and we had to drive our horses some 
way farther up the stream, where its banks were lower, 
and make them swim over. Having done this, we re- 
turned to the klafr, in order to cross the river our- 



selves. This swing-bridge, although a rude and primi- 
tive contrivance, is of sufficient importance to give its 
name of Bru.both to the farm and the river. It consists 
merely of a wooden box, only just sufficiently large to 
carry a man and an ordinary horse burden (that is, about 
2 ft. wide, 2 ft. 6 in. long, and 2 ft. high), suspended above 
the stream by means of two ropes, which run at each side 
of it, through holes in upright posts placed in its corners. 
The ends of these ropes are secured on each shore to beams 
of wood, which are kept in place by a number of heavy 
stones heaped up round them. A third rope is fastened 
to each end of the box, so as to admit of its being drawn 




backwards and forwards by a person on either side of the 
river. We found the klafr fastened to the beam on the far 
shore, and all our attempts to haul it across to our side 
proved unsuccessful. Here was a dilemma : we were left 
with our baggage on one bank of the river, and our horses 
were on the other, but there appeared no way of getting 
across it ourselves; the farm was too far off for us to 
make the people hear, and every minute it was growing 
darker and darker. At length our fylgdar-madr hit upon 
a plan to get us out of the difficulty ; by getting astride 
upon both ropes, and working himself on by his hands, 
he managed with a good deal of difficulty to reach 




the far shore. There he unfastened the kUfr, and we 
drew it across, and getting into it one at a time with a 
load of baggage, all crossed the river in turn. The klafr is 
not a very pleasant sort of bridge. Owing to the slackness 
of the ropes, the box slides down rapidly till it comes over 
the middle of the stream ; there it stops with a sudden 
jerk, quite enough to throw a person who is unprepared for 
it overboard into the angry curdling waters beneath. But 
the last part of the passage is the worst ; for one has to 
haul oneself up the sloping ropes to the shore ; and this 
was no easy work, even although we had the assistance 
of the fylgdar-madr, who was stationed on the shore to 
which we were going. By the time we had all crossed 
it was quite dark. So, leaving our boxes on the bank of 
the river, and our horses to take care of themselves, we 
proceeded up a grassy slope to the farm, which is only 
about five minutes' walk from the river. After supper 
we retired to rest in the small church. 

August 23rfZ.— After riding up along sloping hill to the 
N.W. of the boer, we came upon Jokul-dals-heidi, one of 
those dreary wastes which are so common in Iceland. On 
our way up the hill we met a long string of horses re- 
turning to Bru from the heidi, so laden with hay that 
they were nearly hidden under their loads, and looked 
like walking hay- cocks. The hay consisted as much of 
twigs and leaves of dwarf willow as of grass. I observed 
that the pegs on the bearers, upon which the loads were 
hung, were in many cases made of reindeer's horn, and on 
questioning the farmer, it appeared that he often picked 
up the horns of reindeer in the heidi. He had never seen 
the deer themselves, except in winter, when the ground 
was covered with deep snow, and he had never attempted 
to shoot them. Judging from his finding so many horns, 
reindeer cannot be very scarce in this district. The heidi 


1. 1 





would have been quite barren except for low scrub- 
wood of dwarf willow here and there, and a few green 
swamps round the shores of several small lakes that we 
passed. On most of these we saw two or three pairs of 
wild swans swimming about ; but the wary birds kept too 
far out from shore to allow of our getting a shot at them. 
After a ride of several hours, our path led us down a 
steep declivity into a narrow valley, most desolate and 
gloomy. The soil of the valley, and that of the hills 
which inclose it, consisted of dark volcanic shingle, lying 
amongst tracts of black sand ; the only vegetation to be 
seen was a scant plot of melr, and everywhere else the black 
earth was quite barren. The spot appeared to be shunned 
by every living thing ; no footmark of any beast could 
be discovered upon the loose sand ; not a bird could be 
seen hovering along those dismal hill-sides. The valley 
seemed to stretch for miles away towards the S., right 
into the heart of the country. We rode across the head of 
it and up the hill on its far side ; the descent was very 
steep, and we were obliged to dismount and lead our 
horses. At its foot we came to an extensive tract of 
black volcanic stones and sand : no traces of life or 
vegetation relieved the dreary barrenness of the scene. 
Whichever way we turned our eyes, we saw only a gloomy 
wilderness extending over the bare, black, stony hills that 
surrounded us. Over this desert we rode for several hours 
in a westerly direction, at one time crossing an immense 
level plain, at others descending gradual declivities or 
steep slopes. Before us a steep range of hills stretched 
across our path. As we approached these, I was puzzled 
to know how we were to get across them ; there ap- 
peared to be no way of doing so, except by making a 
circuit of several miles, but our guide continued to ad- 
vance straight towards them, leading us along the deep 

worn bed of a dried up river. At length, when we came 
(juite close to the ridge, there appeared before us in its 
side a broad fissure of from twenty to thirty feet in width, 
extending from top to bottom, into the mouth of which w^e 
rode, and found ourselves in a very singular causeway. 
The floor consisted of gravel and small stones, and it was 
evidently the bed of a winter torrent, though when we 
passed, only a small stream flowed through it. Its sides 
were high precipitous walls of igneous rock, having the 
ano'les of their projecting masses clear-cut and square 
above, but worn by the stream near their base; the 
fissure was not straight like the Almanna-gja, but had 
several sharp turns and windings in it. In about ten 
minutes' time from entering this gjd we emerged on the 
sandy plain of Modru-dalr. In almost every part of it 
were numerous hillocks of sand, covered with luxuriant 
crops of melr, which looked quite cheerful after the barren 
scenes through which we had been riding so long. We 
reached Modru-dalr at 5.15 p.m. Some three or four 
miles from it a line of isolated rocky hills, which had the 
appearance of extinct craters, ran out from the mountains 
on our right towards the centre of the plain ; they were 
none of them of any great height, and each one diminished 
in proportion to its distance from the mountains. We 
could see a similar line of hills at some distance on our 
left. We were received at Modru-dalr with even more 
than common hospitality by Mr. Jonson, the intelligent 
owner of the farm ; he is a wealthy man, having very large 
flocks of sheep, which find ample pasturage on the banks 
of the neighbouring Jokulsa. 

August 2Uh. — Our host this morning pointed out to 
us our old friend the Knappr, far away to the S., across the 
whole breadth of the Vatna Jokull. If our attention had 
not been called to it, we should probably have missed seeing 






the mountain, in the intense glare of the snow-blink 
which hangs over those immense fields of ice. But there 
was no mistaking the shape of his white crest, which we 
could distinctly make out, although the distance could not 
have been less than eighty miles. He seemed to be far 
higher than any other mountains that lay between him 
and us. This circumstance leads me to believe that there 
are no high mountains in the central and northern part of 
the E. end of the Vatna Jokull,— -an opinion which is 
confirmed by the fact, that Mr. Paulson, in his ascent of the 
Orcefa Jokull, descried the summit of Snae-fell towards the 
N. The most striking feature, however, in the view from 
Modru-dalr is the great volcano, Herdu-breid (Broad 
Shoulder). This noble mountain, which is only about 
thirteen miles distant, rises from amongst a bevy of small 
hills, that are grouped around its base, in the middle of an 
extensive flat plain, to the height of more than 5500 feet. 
Its appearance is very singular. Its lower part appears to 
be cylindrical, and for a long way up its sides are nearly 
vertical precipices of rock. These are surmounted by a 
squat cone of perennial ice and snow. A snow-capped 
mountain has often been compared to a cake coated with 
sujrar, but in no case could this simile be nearer the truth 
than in its application to Herdu-breid. An uninteresting 
ride of four hours and a half from Modru-dalr, for the 
most part over a desert abounding with sand hillocks, 
brought us to Grim-stadir. The farm here is a little oasis, 
standing on a small sandy plateau above the level of the 
surrounding desert, the sides of which are so blown 
and washed away by wind and storm that we had some 
difl&culty in finding any way up to it. But the tun 
upon the top of it appears to be pretty good land. There 
being no church here, we pitched our tent and made it 
our sleeping quarters, taking our meals, however, in the 



August25th,— Being Sunday we stopped at Grim-stadir. 
The view of the surrounding country is extensive, but one 
of the most desolate that can possibly be conceived. On 
the E. is a continuation of the gloomy desert mountains 
that we crossed between Bru and Modru-dalr ; on every 
other side are extensive sandy plains, beyond which rise "a 
number of fantastically shaped volcanoes, that crowd the 
scene in almost every direction." Herdu-breid, with his 
precipitous sides and ice-covered summit, forms the chief 
feature in the landscape. Beyond the farm the eye wan- 
dered in vain over hill and plain to seek for any traces of 


There is no church nearer to this place than Modru-dalr, 
and service is only performed there once in three weeks. 
This was not one of the days for it, so the family could 
not go to church; but the farmer, as the head of the 
family, about mid-day summoned his relations and servants 
into the boer, where they read together portions of the 


August 26tL—We left Grim-stadir about 10.30 a.m., 
and rode for an hour in a north-westerly direction through 
the sandy desert until we came to the banks of the 
Jokulsa Axarfirdi, a deep and swift river, over which there 
is a ferry with a boat on each side. After swimming our 
horses across, and transporting ourselves and our baggage 
over in one of the boats, we again mounted, and proceeded 
westwards across the plain towards My-vatn. A strong 
wind blowing right in our teeth carried clouds of sand 
with it, like a simoom, making our ride very disagreeable. 
The small black particles filled our eyes, noses, mouths, 
and ears, and our faces soon became almost as black as 


Not very far from the Jokulsa is a curious insulated 
volcano, now extinct, and, so to speak, in ruins ; for its 




II.' I 





eastern side has fallen away, and left an opening into the 
circular hollow of the crater. It is called Hrossa-borg 
(Horse Fort), from its looking like a fortress, and having 
been used to drive horses into. After riding some distance 
the plain became less sandy, and was covered with a low 
vef^etation of dwarf willow, birch, and juniper {Juniperus 
nana). Beyond this an ancient flow of lava, which has in 
bygone ages overrun the plain, still presents a scene of 
desolation. In some places it is remarkably flat, and 
forms a level pavement for several hundred feet square : 
in others it crops out from the soil in irregular waves of 
stone, or opens in gaping fissures, and exhibits large chasms 
beneath its surface. For the most part it is bare, being 
discoloured, rather than covered, with a grey moss, corre- 
sponding well with the hoary tints of the lava itself. But 
here and there, where the sandy soil has collected upon it, 
grow plants of dwarf willow, birch, and blaberry, their 
leaves, now turned bright red by the touch of Autumn's 
finger, contrasting prettily with the hoary grey of the 

At 4 p. M. we reached the farm of My-vatn-sel, on the 
W. side of the desert, and as we approached it we saw a 
number of steam-jets rising into the air at the foot of a 
line of low brown hills that rose before us. These were the 
well-known Sulphur ]Mountains of My-vatn. The steam-jets 
marked the Namar, or boiling mud-pits, at their base. We 
were now within a few miles' distance of Krabla, which 
stood out prominently amongst a number of volcanic hills 
on our right. On our left in the distance were three or 
four remarkable insulated table-mountains with very steep 
sides, whilst farther off the massive Herdu-breid towereds 
against the sky. From My-vatn-sel we rode over a hilly 
tract of sand and stones for about a couple of miles, then, 
crossing a black field of jagged lava, very old and rotten. 



we came to the foot of the Sulphur Mountains. Since we 
intended to stay several days at My-vatn, we reserved our 
visit to the boiling mud springs for a future occasion, and 
proceeded at once up the steep brown clay banks that 
form the sides of the mountains, and through the Nama- 
skard, a deep-cut winding gorge that leads across them. 

After riding through this gorge under uneven banks of 
reddish-brown clay and bolus for nearly half a mile, we 
reached the western brow of the hills. Immediately 
beneath us lay a plain of sand and clay, in every part of 
which hundreds of little mounds of red and yellow clay 
were steaming and smoking as if they were the chimneys 
of Vulcan's forge itself. Beyond the plain extended My- 
vatn ( Gnat lake), the second largest lake in the country, 
full of dark islands of lava. 

We descended amidst steaming mounds of hot clay and 
beds of sulphur efflorescence, relieving the barren hill- 
side with its bright yellow colour. In one place stood 
a great lump of it weighing several hundred weight, 
and there were patches of it on every side of us. 
The mineral here is very pure and might easily be worked; 
but the cost of carrying it to the nearest port over such 
a rough country, where there are no roads, has as yet 
oiBFered an insuperable obstacle to the undertaking. 

We proceeded under the ridge of hills which form the 
continuation of the Sulphur Mountains over another 
rugged lava-field, full of gaping fissures and caverns, 
bridged over by arches of the lava, until, suddenly round- 
ing a corner of the hills, we found ourselves at Keykja-hlid, 
our destination. 

The farm of Keykja-hlid lies at the N.E. corner of the 
Lake of My-vatn, almost in the midst of a solid stream of 
lava, which was poured down by the neighbouring volcano 
of Leir-hnukr in the year 1725. The spot where it stands 








was formerly a fertile meadow, but the whole plain 
on the N. and E. shores of the lake was devastated by the 
ravages of this eruption. Not only did the boiling flood 
overflow the land, but it continued its course into the 
lake itself, forming in it numerous little islands, and to a 
great extent filling it up. The fiery stream came pour- 
ing over the low hills just at the back of the boer, and 
destroyed it, as well as the surrounding meadows. The 
church escaped destruction in a manner that appears 
almost miraculous. The molten river ran on straight 
towards it, and in a few yards more would have reached 
the wall of the little churchyard, when it diverged into two 
streams, which, pursuing their course round the church- 
yard, were united again almost directly after passing it, 
and flowed on into the lake. 

This lava stream, which is described as having run 
slowly along, appears to have become very viscous by the 
time that it reached the shores of the lake. In most 
places it presents the appearance of large vapour-distended 
domes, rising like big blisters. The surface of these is 
marked with little circular elevations, which Henderson 
has well compared to the coils in a roll of tobacco. 
Beneath the thick slabs, which form the surface, the lava 
is generally hollow, and in many places has fallen in, 
leaving exposed dark arches and caverns. 

We made Reykja-hlid our quarters for a week. It was 
not our first intention to have stopped there so long, 
but for the first four days the weather was so bad that 
we were not able to do or see very much. A cold 
northerly wind brought with it continuous storms of snow, 
sleet, and rain, and winter seemed regularly to have set in. 
However, on the evening of the 30th, the wind got round 
to the S.E. and cleared away the storms. That night 
there followed a sharp frost of between — 5° and — 6° C. (or 



23° and 21° Fahrenheit,) and the morning of the 31st turned 
out gloriously bright, with a clear crisp air. The ground 
was covered with snow, four or five inches deep, sparkling 
in the sun like myriads of diamonds. Every ridge and 
gully of the whitened mountains on the far side of the 
lake were mirrored in its still waters ; the Sulphur plain 
sent up its innumerable little jets of steam straight into 
the breathless air ; and the dark gloom on the lake and 
the lava-fields and deserts was all dispelled. 

After breakfast we started for Krabla under the guidance 
of a boy from the farm, and of Olaver, who had been here 
the previous year, our road as far as the Namar being the 
same as that by which we came. In passing the Sulphur 
plain we stopped to examine the steaming excrescences of 
clay. The approach to them is over beds of sand and clay, 
out of which they rise in variegated blotches and pustules 
of blue, white, red, and yellow, all the colours being mixed 
indiscriminately together. The clay is of about the con- 
sistency of soft putty, and so hot that you can scarcely 
bear your hand upon the surface. A few inches under- 
neath it is too hot to touch. In many places it is covered 
by a hardened scab, over which you must tread warily, or 
you will go through into the loose burning soil beneath. 
About an inch below the crust is a layer of pure sulphur, 
produced by the sublimation of the sulphurated vapours 
rising through the ground. On every side are hundreds of 
these coloured tumours steaming like mimic volcanoes. 

Passing through the Nama-skard, and reaching the 
eastern base of the hills, we turned northwards over a tract 
of sand and slag, keeping the range of hills on our left. 
•They are here covered with dwarf willow and birch, upon 
which we saw a few goats browsing. After a short dis- 
tance we came to a stream of lava, descending the valley 
from the mountains lying to the N. We rode up the 


ll I 


eastern side of this, and after some distance mounted a 
rid-e connecting Krabla with Leir-hnukr. This ridge, aB 
well as the sides of Krabla, was blotched with steaming 
patches of red and yellow clay ; in a gulley on our right, 
half-way up the mountain, a large steam jet rushed out of 
the ground with a loud harsh roar, and all around there 
were" unmistakable evidences of the terrible nearness of 
the subterranean fire. 

A short but hard pull iip a steep bank brought us to 


the edge of a deep circular basin, evidently an ancient 
crater, on the S.W. side of Krabla, at the bottom of which, 
more than fifty feet below us, lay a deep pool of bright 
blue water, intensified in colour by the contrast of the 
white snow which covered its steep banks. The water is 
now cold and quiescent, but when Henderson visited it 
he found it a boiling cauldron " of black liquid matter, 
from the middle of which a vast column of the same black 
liquid was erupted with a loud thundering noise." There 
is still close above it another small pool, in which the 




water boils and steams continually, but no eruptions take 
place. We sent our horses round the mountain into the 
valley between it and Hrafn-tinnu-hryggr, the Obsidian 
mountain, whilst we walked to the top. The view from 
the summit was certainly striking, but not nearly so fine, 
I think, as that from Hlidar-fjall, which we ascended sub- 
sequently. The most striking feature was the plain 
between the Jokulsa Axarfirdi and the Sulphur range, with 
the high table-mountains I have before mentioned, and 
Herdu-breid looming in the distance. The accompany- 
ing sketch is one that I took from the top of Krabla. 

We descended the steep slopes of the mountain into a 
valley on the S.E., which separates it from Hrafn-tinnu- 
hryggr (Raven-flint-back), the well known Obsidian moun- 
tain. The sun had already melted the snow on the hill- 
tops, and the large blocks of obsidian were glittering 
like the diamond mountain in some fairy tale. No 
better description of Hrafn-tinnu-hryggr can be given 
than is to be gathered from its name. It is a long sharp- 
edged dorsal ridge, running from N. to S., and consist- 
ing for the most part of obsidian or volcanic glass. This 
is a highly vitrified stone, in many respects resembling 
lava, but in appearance like opaque glass or flint. Its 
colour varies from a raven black to a smoke grey, but 
some pieces that I picked up contained tints of olive-green 
and jasper-like red. Many of the blocks are full of minute 
vesicles, others are perfectly compact. The blocks which 
are strewn on the sides of the mountain appeared to have 
been separated from a raised centre of obsidian, forming, 
as it were, the spine of the ridge. After exploring the 
mountain, we crossed it and descended into the plain on 
the E.. 

After having again crossed the fields of sand and slag to 
the S. of Krabla, we came to the foot of the Sulphur 

VOL. I. H 



ii t 


mountain. Here we turned aside to visit the Namar, or 
boiling mud-pits. The ground which surroimds them is 
sloughed with burning quagmires and bogs of hot clay. 
Dismounting, therefore, on the edge of the sandy desert, 
we proceeded on foot towards the sputtering and steaming 
cauldrons : — 

" Ineedis per ignes 
Suppositos cineri doloso. " 

The surface of the ground is covered with an ulcerated 
scabby crust, caked by the heat of the fevered ground be- 
neath, which consists of beds of hot miry clay and sulphur. 
More than once the foot of one or other of us broke through 
the crust, leaving, as we withdrew it, a steaming hole in the 
soft ground, which warned us that we could not pick our 
way too cautiously. 

There are no less than twelve of these boiling cauldrons, 
all, except two, lying close together. As we approached 
them, volumes of steam, strongly impregnated with sul- 
phureous gases, were blown into our faces. When we 
reached their brink and looked down, a sight, as repulsive 
and horrible as it was strange, met our eyes. At our feet 
lay a row of mud-pits, sunk in the ground upon which we 
stood, full of a disgusting, thick, slimy liquid, boiling or 
simmering with greater or less vehemence. The mire in 
most of these puddles was of a dark grey slate colour, but 
in some it was almost black, in others nearly blue. In one, 
the muddy soup appeai'ed too thick to boil ; its surface re- 
mained quiescent for about half a minute, and then, after 
rising up a few inches in the centre of the basin, emitted 
a puff of steam, and subsided into its former state. The 
fluid was so viscid that the rings formed by these successive 
jets remained for several minutes visible above the surface 
of the pool. Others of the cauldrons sputtered and boiled 
vehemently, scattering their contents on every side, and 
covering the edges of their basins with a nasty scum of 



slime. Others were contented with squirting, with sudden 
jets, little bullets of mud in every direction. In the centre 
of one, a low column of the thick semi-liquid mud rose 
and subsided with such regularity, that I was strongly 
reminded of spring opera-hats sometimes exhibited in 
the windows of London hatters, which continually open 
and shut by clock-work. The largest of all the pits is one 
of the two lying apart from the others towards the N. Its 
diameter cannot be less than fifteen feet, and it is a sort of 
mud geysir ; for at intervals a column of its black liquid 
contents is thrown up to the height of six or eight feet. 
These eruptions, which are frequent, are accompanied with 
a rush of steam, and in the intervals between them the 
mud is much agitated and boils furiously. 

September 1st, Sunday. — In the afternoon we took a 
stroll up the stream of lava at the back of the farm. We 
had scarcely left the tun when we descried a falcon sitting 
at the top of one of the low hills behind the house, and 
looking so exactly like one of the grey stones around him, 
that we were in doubt at first whether he was a bird or 
not. However, a quick movement of his head, as we ap- 
proached, cleared up our doubts and sealed his fate. He 
was sitting in rather an exposed position, and we had to 
stalk him cautiously and warily. But by separating, and 
one of us diverting his attention in front, while the other 
went round and approached him from behind, we managed 
to get him into our trap, and in ten minutes he had fallen 
to Shepherd's gun. He proved to be a fine young ger- 
falcon, in capital plumage. As we proceeded up the 
stream of lava, it became narrower, and, like a river, 
flowed down in a well-defined channel in the dip between 
two ridges, now spreading out and growing more shallow 
as the channel widened, now becoming deeper and narrower 
where it was contracted by the hills on either side. Al- 

H 2 





thoiigh its surface was generally uneven and irregular, yet 
in places it was smooth and almost level. 

About three miles from Keykja-hlid we reached the base 
of a fine triangular mountain point, which ends a range of 
hills that run for a considerable distance towards the N. 
Olaver, and the guide who brought us from Grim-stadir, 
had told us that this mountain, which forms a conspicuous 
object from the shores of the lake, was Leir-hnukr ; but 
the proper Leir-hnukr, so well known for the destruction 
which its eruptions have caused to the country in its 
vicinity, is rather an inconsiderable ridge lying somewhat 
to the E. of this mountain, between it and Krabla. From 
the heio-ht of this mountain, its position on the map, 
and the absence of any crater upon it, I cannot doubt that 
it is Hlidar-Qall, which, according to Mr. Gunnlaugsson's 
measurement, is rather more than 2300 feet high. The 
day was very fine and clear, and we climbed the moun- 
tain in the hopes of obtaining a good view from its sum- 
mit. The ascent cost us much labour and some little 
danger, for the sides of the mountain are not only ex- 
cessively steep, but are covered with the debris of fallen 
rocks, which lie upon the slopes in large blocks of stone. 
These, as we stepped upon them, often came sliding down 
in great masses, to the no small danger of our legs. How- 
ever, at length we reached the summit in safety. During 
the ascent we saw a falcon battling with two ravens, 
like a hawk persecuted by crows, and, as we approached 
the top, another skimmed along the ridge and disappeared 
behind a mass of rocks. There was a small cairn at the 
top, which was evidently a favourite resort of these birds ; 
and as we threw ourselves down to rest beside it. Shepherd 
remarked how singular it would be if one of them should 
happen to settle on the cairn whilst we were there. Not 
five minutes afterwards we heard a sudden rushing sound. 



and, starting to our feet, found that a falcon had actually 
alighted upon the stones just above our heads. I do not 
know which was most startled by the occurrence, he or us. 
Shepherd, who alone had brought his gun with him, seized 
it and fired at the bird, but missed, and the falcon es- 
caped unhurt. 

This was at least the third falcon we had seen in our walk. 
No doubt an ornithologist making his head-quarters at My- 
vatn might soon add several interesting specimens to his col- 
lection. The lake abounds with water fowl, principally eider 
ducks, but there are also many other species to be found 
there, and the hills in the neighbourhood are a favourite 
resort of ptarmigan and golden plover. This morning, as 
I was on my way to take a dip in the lake, I saw a small 
hawk just beginning to devour a plover he had killed. 
I went up and took his prey from him ; but he would not 
be frightened away, and only flew to a haycock near at 
hand, where he sat eyeing me so anxiously that I relented 
and gave him back his breakfast. The ptarmigan appear 
to be'' attracted to this spot by the abundance of lyng and 
blaberries growing among the scrub on the hills and in the 
crevices of the lava, and the falcons no doubt follow the 


The view from Hlidar-fjall was rather more extensive 
than that from Krabla. On the N. the landscape was 
crowded with barren hills, beyond which, in the far distance, 
I fancied that I could make out the blue expanse of the 


To the S. lay the My-vatns Oroefi, the desert plain 
between Jokulsa Axarfirdi and My-vatnthat I have before 
described, extending southwards into the Od^da Hraun, 
an immense unexplored tract of lava that has devastated 
the whole of the country between Herdu-breid and the 
Vatna Jokull. On the side of this plain beyond the Sulphur 



mountains was a very remarkable hollow, basin-shaped hill, 
called from its shape Hver-fjall (Cauldron-fell). The 
annexed woodcut is taken from a sketch that I made of it 
from this spot. 

I :*■ 


In the valley close below us, on the E., was the dark lava 
stream that we had ascended ; beyond it rose the brown 
banks of Leir-hnukr, varied with red and yellow blotches ; 
beyond these again the squat cone of Krabla, and the dark 
lidge of Hrafn-tinnu-hryggr, backed by the desert My-vatns 
Oroefi, and the barren hills beyond the Jokulsa Axarfirdi, 
looking of a lovely bhie colour in the distance. To the 
W. lay My-vatn, so crowded with dark lava islands that 
tliere appeared to be almost as much land as water within 
the circun]ference of the lake. Beyond it rose a steep 
mountain range, its top and sides still white with the snow, 
which had quite disappeared from the valleys. We 
lingered on the mountain-top until evening be^^an to close 
UK when we retraced our steps to the farm. 



September 2ml— The northern lights last night, fitfully 
coming and fading in every part of the heavens, were very 
beautiful. At one time, an arch of pale yellow light 
spanned the sky above us ; at another, the horizon was lit 
up by a reddening glare like that of a distant fire. Now 
a flash, coming with the suddenness of summer lightning, 
and only lingering as long, flickered for a moment in the 
W. ; now a bright body of light, like a moonlit vapoury 
cloud, flitted across the sky. It is said in England that 
an Aurora is the forerunner of bad weather, but we could 
not well have had a finer day than this turned out to be. 

We intended to have left Reykja-hlid to-day, but we 
stayed one day longer for the purpose of visiting Hver- 
fjall, the curious hollow hill that we saw yesterday from 
the top of Hlidar-fjall. It lies about three miles to 
the S. of Reykja-hlid, between the Sulphur district and 
the lake, and we went straight to it over the field of lava 
bordering the lake. The first part of the way was not 
very bad walking, for amongst the blocks of lava were 
here and there patches of grass growing on the soil, which 
had in the course of years collected there. But after 
about half an hour the character of the lava-field was 
changed, and it became most disagreeable to walk over. 
Imagine a field of solid stone turned up by a giant 
plough, so as to form high ridges and furrows of broken 
blocks of stone of all shapes and sizes. Such was the 
ground over which our way led us, and we w^ere not sorry 
when we at length reached a narrow tract of sand beyond 
it, on which stood Hver-fjall. 

This hill, which is evidently the crater of an extinct vol- 
cano, rises only to a height of about two hundred feet 
above the plain, and consists entirely of sand and blocks of 
scorise, some of which are of great size. Its sides are 
deeply scored by water courses, and very steep. On reach- 





ing the summit, we found ourselves on the edge of an im- 
mense circular basin, about two miles in circumference, in 
the centre of which rose a large circular mound of sand 
and scoriae. A similar hill rises from the plain at a 
distance of a few miles towards the S. 

Sept Srcl — We started for Akreyri. The weather still 
continued very fine, and the days were warm and bright, 
though the nights were cold with hard frosts, the minimum 
thermometer in the morning generally standing at from 
-5° to -6° Cent. (23° to 21-2° Fahr.). 

Our road took us round the north end of My-vatn to 
the banks of the Laxa (Salmon Eiver), which flows from 
it on the W. The whole of the N. shore has at some 
time or other been inundated with lava. The greater part 
of it is now covered with grass, but the numerous fissures 
and crevasses that gash its surface still show the depths 
of the stony stream beneath. In many places you can see 
how the surface of the lava has become hardened, whilst 
the molten stream underneath still flowed onwards, leavino- 
great caverns beneath the crust, and exemplifying the 
process which led to the subsidence of the lava field of 

Having crossed the Laxa, which flows between walls of 
dark lava, we crossed a broad heidi covered with a low 
vegetation of heather, lyng-berry, and blaberry, and as 
well stocked with ptarmigan, as a Norfolk stubble is with 
partridges. We must have seen several hundred birds in 
the course of our ride. Our fylgdar-madr had brought his 
dog with him, and the wretched hound, who pursued 
everything he saw, was often quite distracted by the 
number he put up. A ride of about eight hours from 
Reykja-hlid, brought us to the Skjalfanda-fljot, a broad 
Jokulsa, which, rising in the Tungna-fells Jokull, flows 
northwards through the heart of the country. We crossed 



it without much difficulty, and in half an hour more 
reached a little farm on the banks of a lake, called Liosa- 
vatn (clear water). 

The next day (Sept. 4th), before proceeding to Akreyri, 
we rode down to the Skjalfanda-fljot to visit Goda-foss, 
reputed to be the largest waterfall in the country, but I 
was rather disappointed with it. The dark rocks which 
frown above the pool, into which the water leaps, are fine ; 
but the fall itself is neither remarkably beautiful nor 
particularly grand. A ride of less than two hours brought 
us to Hals, where we paid a passing visit to the priest, 
and then rode down through a good-sized birch forest to 
the banks of the Fnjoska. At this river we fell in with a 
party of excursionists, who had ridden out from Akreyri 
for the day. We joined them and rode in their company 
across the steep snow-covered mountains of Yadla-heidi, 
which separate Fnjoska-dalr from Eya-fjordr. One of the 
young ladies of the party enlivened our journey, by singing 
popular English airs, such as " Cheer, Boys, cheer," and 
"Beautiful Star," with Icelandic words. The Icelanders 
generally are not musical. I have once or twice heard a 
man humming a chant, or a mother singing to her child, 
but, merry and light-hearted as the people are, they do not 
appear to care much for any kind of music. 

After descending from the heidi, we waded a wide river 
at the head of Eya-fjordr, in which were a number of 
low islands where the people were making hay. Akreyri 
lies near the head of the fjord on its western shore. It is 
little more than a village ; the houses, like those of Keykja- 
vik, are mostly tarred or painted black. We had some 
difficulty in finding any place at which to put up, but at 
length a merchant agreed to receive us, and we passed two 
nights very comfortably in his house. We left on Sep- 
tember 6th, and rode northwards for about eight miles 


' .^ 



along the shore of the Fjordr; then we turned in a S.W. 
direction up the valley of the Horg^, a rocky stream, 
which looks as likely for trout as any that I saw in Iceland, 
and after an easy ride reached Stein-stadir. Here we 
stopped tlie night, and were most hospitably treated by 
the owner of the fiirm, who had only lately returned from 
Keykja-vik, whither he had been to fulfil his duties as an 

Sept, 7th. — We proceeded up the valley for ten or 
twelve miles, in the course of which we found much difficulty 
from the numerous bogs and morasses. On approaching 
the head of the valley we turned westwards across a moun- 
tain-ridge, called Oxnadals-heidi, and from this, entered 
another valley, and rode along the precipitous banks of a 
small river, which we had to cross and recross several 
times, until we reached Blondu-hlid, a long open valley, 
running due N and S., as fertile with grass and as 
thickly studded with farms as any in Iceland. Here we 
again found a good deal of difficulty from the boggy 
nature of the ground, and did not reach Mikli-boer until 
after dark. The following day (Sept 8th), being Sunday, 
we remained at Mikli-boer. The church here is rather 
large, and nearly forty persons came in to the service. 
This was the largest congregation that I saw anywhere out 
of Eeykja-vik. Since everybody, who does not live ac- 
tually upon the spot, rides to church, however short the 
distance may be, there was a goodly collection of horses 
left standing outside the churchyard, whilst service was 
going on. On such occasions, the Icelanders in order to 
prevent their horses from straying, tie them together in 
pairs, head to tail, in such a way that the poor beasts 
cannot stir, even to nibble the grass at their feet, and it 
was rather a ludicrous sight to see some fifteen pairs of 
horses, standing together all bound in this fashion. Se- 




veral of the congregation had been indulging rather 
too freely in corn brandy, before they came to the ser- 
vice; and half a dozen of these fellows hung about the 
priest's house all the afternoon, making a great noise. 
At length, one by one, they mounted and rode away, 
shouting uproariously as they galloped off, and sitting so 
unsteadily in their saddles, that I expected every minute 
to see them tumble. This was the only occasion upon 
which I saw such a drunken scene out of Eeykja-vik. 
There, unfortunately, such disgraceful scenes are too fre- 
quent, when the country-people come in to lay in their 
stores of coffee, sugar, dried fish, wood, &c., in exchange 
for their wool and knitted things. 

Sept 9th, — The day was ushered in by storms of 
hail and sleet, and before noon, a heavy fall of snow 
commenced, which continued without intermission through- 
out the day. We started about 10 a.m., and after crossing 
the river at the bottom of the valley, and passing over a 
tract of boggy ground beyond it, rode for several hours 
over a mountain tract, till we descended into the valley 
beyond, upon a farm called Bol-stadar-hlid. The ride 
was bitterly cold : a N. W. wind met us full in the face, and 
seemed to drive through everything we had on. The storm 
prevented us from seeing any distant view. In one place 
we passed a good-sized lake, upon the shores of which were 
two or three men making hay, as if a single day during the 
summer, however wintry it might be, was too valuable to 
be lost. On the mountain I saw a brood of ptarmigan, 
crouching down in the snow ; their plumage was already 
nearly white. It has been a question amongst ornitholo- 
gists, whether there are two or only one species of 
ptarmigan in this country. As far as my own observation 
goes, I believe that there is only one, and I am confirmed 
in this belief bv the natives. A ride of about five miles 













from Bol-stadar-hlid, took us to Stori-dalr. In our way 
we had to ford rather a deep river, named Blanda (Mixed 
river), and to cross a tract full of deep morasses, which 
caused us much difficulty, 

The house at Stori-dalr, was small and very dirty ; but 
the farmer, a merry little old man, was most hospitable, not 
only to us, but also to every one about him. As his men, 
who had been out mowing all day, came dropping in one 
by one, he gave every one a liberal draught of corn-brandy. 
But he did not forget himself either, and whilst he gave 
his men the bottle to drink from, he applied the keg to 

his own lips. 

As usual in Icelandic houses, there was no fire in the 
guest-room ; we were therefore glad, when the haymakers 
came home, to warm ourselves at the forge, where they 
were repairing their scythes for the next day's work. 

Sept lOth. — The morning was fine, and there was not 
so much snow on the hills as we had expected to find. 
We started about 9 A.M., and rode up the valley, passing 
in our way two small farms, on the walls of one of which 
were hung up a dozen skins of wild swans. The birds 
had been knocked down by sticks, when moulting. In 
about an hour we reached the fells, over which our road 
lay. The surface of the ground here, as in many an 
Icelandic heidi, is everywhere cut up into little mounds, 
separated from each other by deep and narrow ruts, and 
covered with dwarf willows, with long and straggling roots, 
but low and scrubby branches. We passed several large 
lakes, on most of which we saw two or three pairs of wild 
swans. At 3 p. m. we reached a stream with some grass on 
the banks, and we therefore stopped for an hour to let our 
horses feed. The desert extended around us as far as we 
could see, and the dreary aspect was considerably increased 
by a dull grey autunmal sky. Towards the south a white 



glare rising above our horizon marked the position of the 
Arnar-fells, and Lang Jokulls. 

When we started again, a drizzling mist surrounded 
us, but fortunately it was not very thick, and did not 
prevent us from seeing our land-marks, or we should pro- 
bably have lost our way, for there was no track across the 
desert. More than once travellers on this route have 
been overtaken by snow-storms and perished, and the 
bleaching bones, which here and there give a conspicuous 
whiteness to the vardar, or cairns, that at intervals mark 
the route, point out the spots where horses have met with 
a similar fate. At 6 p.m. we reached Sand-fell, the 
highest point of this the highest road in Iceland, which is 
said to be at an elevation of 2212 feet above the sea. 
Before this we passed a hill, the whole side of which was 
crowded with basaltic columns. Beyond Sand-fell we 
entered the Stori Sandr, an immense stony desert, full of 
large angular blocks of stone, laid close together on a 
ground of sand. There was but little snow here. At 
leno-th we reached a part of the Sandr, where a road for 
several miles has been made by clearing away the stones 
from the surface. This was done some years ago at the 
expense of several of the merchants of Keykja-vik, who 
were anxious to establish a better communication between 
that place and Eya-fjordr. But the good work was never 
carried out, and the amount of labour and expense re- 
quired to finish it is, I fear, too great to give much 
chance of its ever being completed. We rode on till 9.30 
P.M., when we came to a small stream, which we could 
only just see glistening through the darkness. After 
looking about, we found a spot on its banks, covered with 
grass, where we pitched our tent for the night. 

Sept lUL — There was but little grass near our camp, 
and two of our horses during the night wandered away 







in search of pasturage. The stream turned out to be the 
Budara,, which flows into the largest of a numerous 
group of lakes, named Arnar-votn, not far from our 
camp, where there was some grass. The rest of the 
country was a dreary desert. When we found our horses 
we proceeded in a S.W. direction, past the Eyriks Jo- 
kull, a fine mass of dark rock, supported by a number 
of precipitous buttresses, jutting out from its equally 
precipitous sides. I counted no less than eighteen of 


these. The mountain seems to be an extinct volcano. 
Its summit is a blunted cone, bisected apparently by an 
immensely broad fissure, filled with ice. Soon after 
passing it, we came to an immense field of lava, filling 
up the whole breadth of the valley between the Arnar- 
vatns-heidi and the outlying hills of the Eyriks and Lang 
Jokulls. The fiery stream, which probably originated in 
the Bald Jokull, has flowed round the Eyriks Jokull, and 
come surging down the valleys of the Hvita and Nord- 



Jinga-fljot, its molten waves rising high up against the 
sides of the neighbouring mountains, and driving the 
rivers into fresh channels. In many places the lava-field 
is remarkably level, but in others, its surface swells and 
falls like a sea of stone ; some of the lava domes on it 
being of great size. It is here that the great Surts-hellir, 
or caves of Surtur, the prince of darkness and fire, are 
situated. The accompanying woodcut shows the aspect of 
the field from near the entrance to the caves, looking S. 
towards a low mountain called Strutr.* In about an hour 
after crossing this lava plain we reached Kalmans-tunga. 
Sept I4:th. — After breakfast we started with Olaver and 
the farmer of Kalmans-tunga to explore the Surts-hellir. 
After retracing our steps of the previous day to the lava- 
field, and traversing it for some distance, we struck across 
it towards a varde or heap of stones, which marks the 
principal entrance to the caverns. This is an extensive 
chasm formed by the falling in of a part of the lava roof of 
the caverns. Leaving our horses in charge of the farmer, 
we descended into the chasm, and found ourselves right 
in the mouth of the caves. The main cavern runs 
towards Strutr in an almost straight line, and is nearly a 
mile in length. Its dimensions are somewhat irregular, 
but its average height is about 40 and its breadth 50 feet, 
though towards the far end it becomes more contracted. 
The lava crust, which forms the roof of the caves, is about 
1 2 feet thick, and has the appearance of being stratified, 
and columnar, like basaltic pillars, in its formation. Many 
of the blocks of lava thus formed have become detached, and 
fallen into the cavern, where they lie piled up in great heaps. 
We had brought with us some of the candles of our 

* For this sketch, as well as those of the entrance to the second portion 
of Surts-hellir, and the Lang Jokull, I am indebted to the kindness of my 
friend Capt. Campbell. 


I- ' 








cooking lamp, and, each lighting one of these and 
following Olaver— who had explored the caverns twenty 
years previously — we entered the dusky passage before us : 
it was not quite dark, for some way on, the roof had fallen 
in, and through the aperture a disk of light glimmered in 
the distance. Immediately after entering, we turned aside 
out of the main cavern to visit a large chamber on our 
rio-ht. The floor of this is strewn with bones of oxen. 


sheep, and horses, killed (so says tradition) by a band of 
wild outlaws, who made this their robbers' den, and lived 
by depredations on their neighbours' flocks, and herds. 
The country-people still believe in the existence of a race 
of outlaw robbers, who inhabit the unexplored tracts in 
the centre of the country. ' How else,' they ask, ' can you 
account for our losing so many sheep yes.T after year ? ' 
From the robbers' cave we reached the main cavern affain 



by a small side branch, and soon afterwards came to the 
aperture through which we had seen the light from the 
entrance. We passed this, keeping on a rampart of lava 
that runs at the height of ten or twelve feet from the ground 
along the western wall, and after entering the cave beyond 
it in a short time reached a second aperture very similar 
to the flrst. Leaving this, we were soon in the profound 
darkness of the cavern, which seemed to make still fainter 
the faint light of oui* flickering candles. The walking here 
would have been bad enough in the light ; in the dark it 
was execrable. We had to scramble over the fallen blocks 
of lava, slipping and stumbling into the holes betw^een 
them, varied by pools of water, and masses of snow. After 
proceeding for some distance, we reached another aperture, 
at the farther side of which the cave is divided into two by 
a wall of lava. We first entered the left aperture which is 
at a lower level than that on the right. At the bottom of it 
was a pool of water, nearly knee deep, lying on a floor 
of ice. After passing this we found we had come to the 
end of the cavern, and were therefore obliged to retrace 
our steps to the opening. We then entered the other 
division of the cavern, and here the walking was much 
better. After some time we came to another opening in 
the roof. Having passed it and entered the cavern beyond, 
we found at its bottom a floor of the clearest ice, which 
was apparently of great thickness, since we could not see 
the lava beneath it. Olaver had never been into this part 
of the caves, but there is really no need of a guide to 
explore them, and so on we went. The \valking was 
delif^htful over the smooth ice floor, which sloped consi- 
derably downwards. In five minutes we reached the most 
beautiful fairy grotto imaginable. From the crystal floor 
<5f ice rose group, after group of transparent icy pillars, 
while from the glittering roof, most brilliant icy pen- 
VOL. I. I • 

(. I 








dants hung down to meet them. Columns and arches of 
ice were ranged along the crystalline walls ; the lights of 
our candles were reflected back a hundredfold from every 
side till the whole cavern shone with wondrous lustre. I 
never saw a more brilliant scene ; and indeed it would be 
difficult to imagine any thing more fairy like. The 
pillars, which stood 

" Like natural sculptnre in cathedral cavern," 

were many of them of great size tapering to a point as 
they rose. The largest were at least eight feet high, and 
six feet in circumference at their base. The stalactites 
were on an equally grand scale. Through this lovely ice 
grotto we walked for nearly ten minutes. After leaving it, 
in five minutes we reached the foot of a steep bank, upon 
the top of which we discovered the cairn built by Olafsen 
and Povelsen in 1753. We found here, amongst numerous 
other coins, the Danish half-crown (dated 1688) which 
they deposited, and could still decipher the seal upon it, 
which represents two dogs fighting with some animal (a 
hedgehog according to Henderson). 

After repairing the cairn, we left upon it three English 
coins, as a memorial of our visit, and again proceeded. 
We reached the end of the cavern, after a few minutes' 
easy walk over a level floor of vitreous lava, covered with 
small black glassy projections, that glittered brightly in 
the light of our candles. We then returned to the nearest 
aperture, and after scrambling up the sides of the tunnel 
to the upper air, mounted our horses and galloped back 
to Kalmans-tunga.* 

Sept Uth.— The next day we proceeded to Reyk-holt 

* The temperature of the cares was from 8° to 10° C. (46° to 50° 
Fahrenheit), that of the air outside being 12° C. (63° Fahrenheit). 










(Smoke Hill), where we stopped the two following days, 
visiting the numerous hot springs in the neighbourhood. 
Many of them are very quaint. One of the largest groups 
has, by a continual process of incrustation, raised for itself 
a small island in the middle of the glacial waters of the 
Hvita: and numerous others around the island come 
spitting up through the icy water from the bottom of the 
river. For a fuller description of them I must refer 
my readers to the accounts of Sir Gr. Mackenzie, Hen- 
derson, and other travellers. 

Sept l6th.~We left Eeyk-holt and crossed the fjall to 
Thingvallas-veit. Our road was S., across the Valley of 
Eeyk-holt, and up the mountains on the far side of it 
across a desolate flat plain at their top. After some time 
we came into view of the circular insulated Ok JokuU. Its 
top was shrouded in mist, and it looked low and insignifi- 
cant ; next we saw the ice fields of Oeit-lands Jokull, as 
the most westerly part of the great Ldng Jokull is called. 
Further on were several small lakes not yet deserted for the 
sea-shore by their wild swans, and then we passed Skjald- 
breid, a volcano well known in the annals of Iceland, 
which has devastated a vast tract of country to the S. We 
rode for several miles along the side of an extensive plain 
of lava, which has flowed from this mountain, and after 
traversing a tract of volcanic sand, ascended a steep moun- 
tain from the top of which we saw the valley of Thing- 
vellir extended at our feet. Descending into the head of 
the valley, we rode across it towards the lake ; but since 
the day was drawing in, and our ride had been a long one, 
we stopped short of Thing-vellir at Hraun-tun (Lava-tun), 
a little farm lying in the midst of the lava, and completely 
hidden by it until you approach almost to the tun wall. 

The following morning (Sept. 17th) an hour's ride 
brought us to our old quarters at Thing-vellir, where we 

I 2 




t I 

I 1 




Stopped that night, and the next day proceeded to Eeykja- 
vik. We had been informed before starting on our tour 
that the Arcturus would arrive on her return voyage about 
this time, and we stopped four days at Eeykja-vik daily ex- 
pecting her. We found, however, plenty to do there. 
Two days we spent at the interesting fossil-beds of Foss- 
YO(n which are only a short distance off. A third, I took 
my rod to the Laxa, and though the river was low, and the 
season late, caught one salmon and half a dozen very good 
sea-trout. On Monday, Sept. 23rd, there being no signs 
of the Arcturus, we set out for a short tour of six days, to 
Krisuvik (the Sulphur Mountain of the S.), Eyrar-bakki, 
and Keykir, (the little Geysii'). On our return we found 
that the Arcturus had at last arrived. But a tremendous 
storm, which lasted four days, detained her from sailing, 
and it was not imtil the morning of Oct. 3rd that we 
weighed anchor and steamed down the Faxa-fjordr in a 
S.W. gale, which lasted us the whole way, until we again 
placed foot on terra jirma in Scotland. 


The only regular communication between this country and Ice- 
land, is by the Arcturus steamer. The agents for which, are 
Messrs. D. Robertson and Co. at Grangemouth ; and Messrs. 
Kock and Henderson at Copenhagen. 

The fare is 5/. each way, or 9Z. for a return ticket, available 
for the same voyage only, and giving about a week in the island. 
The tariff on board is reasonable. The currency of Iceland is 
Danish silver : Danish notes are useless : but English notes and 
English gold, can always be exchanged for Danish money at 

There are no roads, and therefore no carriages in Iceland, and 
consequently the only way of travelling is on horseback. The 
distances between the places are too great, the rivers are too 
furious, and the bogs too extensive, to allow of a walking tour being 
made. Horses should always, if possible, be procured before- 
hand. Probably the steamboat agent at Reykja-vik would un- 
dertake to get any number that might be required. Their price 
is from about 21. to 4Z. We paid for ours from 16 dollars (IZ. 16s.) 
to 33 dollars (3Z. 14s. 3cZ.) each. Riding-horses cost a little more 
than baggage-horses. If the traveller prefer it, he can hire horses 
for his tour at the rate of about three marks a day for a riding- 
horse, and two for a baggage-horse. The value of a mark is 
fourpence-lialipenny. The horses can be sold again after the 
journey, and generally fetch between one third and one fourth of 
their original price. From these data, the traveller can judge for 
himself whether to buy or hire the required number of horses. 
Buying has some advantages, as for instance, the being able to 
make a swop in case of a horse being lamed. I should re- 
commend travellers who intend to take a long journey, to buy ; 
those who are going for only a fortnight or so, to hire. Those 
who merely wish to visit Hekla, the Geysirs, nnd Krisuvik, 
could probably make a bargain for the price of horses for their 







journey, irrespective of the time occupied by it, at a somewhat 
cheaper rate than if they took them by the day. 

One oreat difficulty of an Icelandic traveller is with regard to 
guides. As I have mentioned, most of the so-called Reykja-vik 
<niides know no more about the greater part of the country than the 
traveller who sees it for the first time. The best plan would be to 
arrange with a student at the Reykja-vik college to accompany 
you, and to hire a iylgdar-madr, or local guide, from place to place. 
There are now, however, two or three men at Reykja-vik, who have 
accompanied recent travellers through a great part of the country ; 
amongst them I may mention our guide, Olaver, whom I can 
strongly recommend; and Zoega, the only one of them who 
speaks English. The charge for guides is from one and half 
dollar (35. 4i</.) to three dollars (65. 9£/.) a day, including every- 
thing but their horses. With regard to outfit, persons differ so 
much in their ideas of what is necessary for a traveller, that it is 
somewhat difficult to speak for every one. I should recommend 
a strong tweed suit as best for the climate, and the work. I my- 
self always rode in a pea-jacket, taking it off, and, like the natives, 
riding in my shirt sleeves when the weather was warm. Good 
warm gloves and stockings should be taken from England. We 
had heard much of the goodness of Icelandic gloves and socks, 
and had reckoned on being able to obtain them in the country. 
To our cost we found that they had all been exported to Denmark, 
and it was not until we had tried at many farms, that we could 
obtain even a single pair of gloves. The storms of Iceland are 
often very ftirious, and every Icelandic traveller should therefore 
be prepared with a complete covering of waterproofs. He 
should also provide himself with a pair of long fisherman's boots, 
to draw up over the thigh, for crossing the rivers in, or, as a 
substitute, fishing stockings, covered down the leg with leather, 
like an hussar's trowsers. I should also recommend that both a 
saddle and a snaffle-bridle should be taken from England. The 
former should fit a pony of about thirteen hands. There is a 
saddler at Reykja-vik, who will stuff it if it is a little too large. 

At least a dozen of the strongest girths of all sizes should likewise 
be taken ; and a small hunting crop, or dog whip, with a long 
thong would also be useftd. Nails, horseshoes, hobbles and such 
like necessaries can be secured at Reykja-vik. In the way of 
supplies, I should advise the traveller to take nothing but a few 
pounds of sea-biscuits, some brandy, and tobacco. Coffee, milk, 



butter, cheese, kdku or black rye-bread, dried fish, and corn 
brandy, can be obtained at nearly every farm. Rice too is often 
obtainable, and in most parts of the country fresh fish, and not 
unfrequently mutton. The charge for aU these things is ex- 
tremely moderate. On an average we paid only from one and a 
half (3s. 4icZ.) to two dollars (4s. 6cZ.) a day for suppUes for our 
two selves and Olaver, as weU as for grass for our horses. In 
several places our hosts refiised to take anything at all. In such 
cases we found such presents as knives, pencil-cases, and little 
things of that sort very useful. Books would be much esteemed, 
but their weight and bulk make them difficult to carry. Pictures 
or photographs would I think be prized, and scissors, needles, 
knives, &c., are always acceptable. Where we had to pay, we 
used to do so through Olaver. 

If the traveller intends making a journey through the interior, 
a tent is necessary ; but it should not weigh more than about 
sixty pounds, or half a horse's load ; on a short journey he will 
find it most convenient to take up his quarters in the farm-houses 
or the churches, and to travel without any baggage at all, except 
a blanket for sleeping in. We followed this plan in the six 
days' tour that we took by Krisuvik, Eyrar-bakki, and Reykir, 
and found it answer very well. 

For a tour across the interior, it [wiU be necessary to take 
a cooking-lamp ; a spirit-lamp is the best. If you take gun or 
fishing-rod, you must either carry them yourself, or have a strong 
case made for them. I carried my gun all round the island in a 
shoe, made on the same principle as a lancer's lance-rest, and 
fastened to my stirrup. This answered its purpose admirably. 
Instead of the Icelandic boxes, which are very cumbrous and 
weighty, it would be as weU to have some smaUer boxes made in 
England. They must be constructed so as to be tlioroughly 
water-proof, but care must be taken that they are veiy strong, as 
they are sure to come into frequent coUision with the boxes 
carried by the other horses, or to be bumped against masses of 
stone and sharp points of lava. They must have iron rings fastened 
to the backs in order to go over the hooks on the bearers ; 
but these wiU be best fitted on at Reykja-vik. An Icelandic 
box is usually about fifteen inches high, twenty-two inches 
long, and about ten inches wide, the wood of which it is 
made being about three-fourths of an inch thick. Saddle-bags 
wiU be found very useftd to carry clothes and lighter articles. A 









pad for these should be taken from England. No Icelandic 
traveller should be without Gunnlaugsson's (Olsen's) map, or 
omit to read Henderson before he sets out. 

The best time for travelling in Iceland is from the middle of 
June till the middle of September. In June the horses are getting 
fat and strong, and the eifects of the scantiness of their food during 
the winter has passed away. The days, too, are then longest; 
indeed, there is scarcely any night at all, and the rivers are gene- 
rally in good order for fishing. Towards the end of September 
the days become too short for a long joiuney. 

There is still room for exploration in Iceland. The N.W. 
peninsula is almost unknown. Even Henderson went but a very 
short way into it, and no one, I believe, has since attempted to 
explore it. The interior ice-fields of the great Vatna Jukull have 
never yet been trodden by foot of man, but it is to be hoped that 
they will not long remain so. A visit to the Skaptar Jokull would 
be especially interesting. The difBculty of exploring this district 
arises from the absence of pastiu*age in the deserts near at hand. 
But probably an attempt to explore the W. end of the Vatna 
Jukull might be made successfully, even without a regularly 
organised expedition, by way of Fiski-votn, where I am informed 
there is plenty of grass. It has been recommended that a party 
going out to explore the Vatna JokuU should make Beru-fjordr 
their starting point, but I think that this is a mistake. I believe 
that the best point of attack would be from the W., and not from 
the E. or S. Added to which, it would be very difficult, if not 
impossible, to procure the necessary number of horses in that part 
of the island. They would have to be taken thither fiom the N. 
or W., which would be attended with considerable expense. 
There are many Jokulls which it would be well worth while to 
ascend. So far as I am aware no one has ever yet reached the 
actual summit of any Jokull. The Snaj-fells Jokull has been 
several times attempted, but never with complete success. Of all 
those that I saw Snae-fell in the E., and Hvanna-dals-nukr on the 
Orcefa- Jokull appeared to be most worthy of an ascent. The tra- 
veller must not expect to find in Iceland any mountaineers who 
are acquainted with their Jokulls, and can act as guides, but he 
will in most cases be able, for a trifling sum, to obtain the services 
of some peasant, who will be willing to accompany him on any 
mountain expedition. 

FinaDy, I would say, that not only the member of the 




Alpine Club, but the geologist, the botanist, and the ornitho- 
logist, wiU, each in his own line, find much to interest him in 
Iceland. The lover of fine scenery wiU find there a wild, 
weird country, abounding with rugged cliffs, rushing torrents, 
noble mountains, and leaping waterfalls, but having also its softer 
scenes, its blue fjordrs, its grassy valleys, its flowering banks, and 
its quiet homesteads ; and every one who goes there will meet 
with such open, warm-hearted hospitality as it would be difiicult 
to find equalled in any other country. 

Edward Thurstan Holland. 

Note 1. 

The following letter was written by Mr. Hogarth to Mr. W. 

Longman, and appeared in the Times towards the end of last 

June (1861). 

"Eyrebaki (Eyrarbacki), June 13th. 

" Dear Sir, — I drop you a few lines to acquaint you with an in- 
teresting circumstance, which has taken place here within a few 
days, but, unfortunately before our arrival, although we did fall 
in with a part of it before reaching the coast ; which was, meeting 
a large body of fresh very brown water, about eighty miles off 
Ingolfo Head [Ingolfs-hofdi], on the morning of Monday last, 
the 10th instant, the temperature of which was 46°, two degrees 
lower than the previous day. We continued to sail through this 
stream of fresh water for about thirty miles, when we sighted 
the high land of the Oroefa Jokull, and came into green water, 
which we carried with us into the shore, a distance of fifty miles, 
wdien we met the ordinary mild water of the snow-streams of the 

" On mentioning this circumstance on our arrival here, we were 
informed that the Oroefa and Scapta [Skaptar] Jokulls had both 
been in a state of eruption a few days back, the particulars of 
which we have been made acquainted with by the minister of 
that neighbourhood, who was present and witnessed it, and the 
account which he gives is as follows : — On the 23rd of May the 
first signs of eruption were observed by an unusual flow of waiter 
from the Orcefa, and on the morning of the 24th they were 
awakened by a strong smell of sulphur, which became overpower- 



ing, and which was quite apparent at Reyk-javik, a distance of 
200 miles ; at the same time all metals, except iron, had become 
tarnished, although in many instances ' carefully wrapped up in 
cotton. It appears to have affected these metals at a distance of 
fifty miles from the mountain. The Rev. Mr. Pollson, our infor- 
mant, states that this is the first real volcanic eruption which has 
occurred in the Oroefa Jcikull, although the rivers Skeidava 
[Skeidara] and Neepo [Djupa (?)], flowing fi-om the Skapta, have 
been regularly flooded every sixth year, the latter invariably fol- 
lowing the former afler the lapse of twenty- four hours, on all of 
which occasions large masses of ice are brought do"\vn fi'om the 
mountain, and remain in the low country for years before they 
disappear. On this occasion an interval of ten years has elapsed 
since the last regular flooding of these rivers took place, and the 
quantity of water sent down by the present eruption completely 
inundated the flat land between those two rivers, a distance of 
twenty miles. Smoke in great quantities has been ejected on this 
occasion from both these mountains, a circumstance not before 
known. Mr. Pollson was called from home three days afler the 
eruption commenced, when it was as vigorous as ever, but has 
heard since that it has subsided, which we can corroborate, as we 
sailed close along the land on Tuesday morning last, and had a 
fine view of the whole mountain range ; but the absence of any 
imusual quantity of fresh water on the ocean near the land, while 
it abounded at eighty miles off, proved the thing. 

" The quantity of debris from the Oroefa appears to have been 
very great, as the coast here, a distance of 150 miles from the moun- 
tain, is covered with pumice stone and brushwood. I have taken 
the liberty of communicating these circumstances to you, know- 
ing the deep interest which you take in these matters, and regret 
that as we (Major Wyatt, C.B. and self) are on the eve of starting 
for our fishing lodge in Thingvalla valley, we are unable to collect 
any further particulars. I may mention that we had a pleasant 
passage out from Aberdeen by a sailing vessel in eight days, and 
have only further to say that I have seen a very beautiful specimen 
of Surturbrand upwards of a foot through, and as hard and black 
as a coal, and that you may make any use of this letter you may 
think proper for the benefit of those whom you thinV it might 
interest ; and I remain, dear Sir, yours sincerely, 

" Williain Longman, Esq., 

36 Hyde Park Square, London." 

"William Hogarth. 



Note 2. 

The annexed account of Mr. Paulson's ascent of the Oroefa Jokull 
is taken from a note in Henderson's Iceland (p. 203). 

" We left Qvisker (a small solitary farm at the eastern base of 
the mountain) at 5.45 in the morning of the 11th of August 1794, 
with a clear atmosphere and calm weather, aft;er having furnished 
ourselves with a barometer, a thermometer, a small compass, a 
pointed hammer, a long pole, and a rope about ten fathoms in 
length. Our route lay up the precipitous mountains which form 
the base of the Yokul, till we gained the ice at 8.45 a.m., when 
we rested a few minutes on a small height, at the base of which 
we observed several specimens of the beautiful Alpine plant, 
Eanunculus nivalis, some of which had abeady withered. Such 
as had recently blossomed had snow-white petals, but those of 
longer standing were more or less red, resembling a saffron yellow. 
This plant is very rarely to be met with on the Southern Alps of 


" The barometer had now fallen from 28° 4^', where it stood at 
Qvisker, to 25° 4^', and the heat was 8^' of Reaumur. 

" The margin of the Yokul had evidently pushed forward against 
the height on which we stood, and raised a waU of small stones and 
sand nearly half up its side, but had again retreated to the distance 
of several fathoms. 

" Having boimd myself to my two companions by means of the 
rope, leaving a distance of two fathoms between each, that we 
might assist each other in case any of us should happen to fall into 
a rent of the ice, we proceeded up the Yokul, but had scarcely 
advanced twenty paces, when we heard a noise louder than thunder, 
runnino- as it were longitudinally through the whole ice mountain 
from S. to N., accompanied with a perceptible concussion under our 
feet, which lasted for about a minute. 

" My companions now wished to return, but though this shock 
retarded our progress for a few moments, a kind of natural impulse 
to visit these icy Alps prompted me to contmue my ascent; and 
we afterwards found that the report was occasioned by what is 
caUed Yiikla-brestr, or Yokul-burst, the ice having disrupted and 
fallen in from either side of a gully, about a mile (five English 
miles) in length. 

" We continued our route up the S.E. side of the Yokul, where it 




. 1 , 



was least acclivltous, passing a number of black tufFa rocks, and 
crossing a multiplicity of fissures deeper than the eye could reach. 
Here, as is common at such elevations, the atmosphere got too thin 
to admit of our breathing with freedom. One of our party was 
so much affected, and felt such an inclination to sleep, that he 
remained behind us, and on lying down on the bare ice, imme- 
diately fell asleep ; the other, naturally subject to a beating at the 
heart and melancholy, found himself more relieved and cheerful 
the higher we ascended, without being sensible of any particular 
fatigue from the tenuity of the air. We at length gained the S.E. 
peak of the Yokul at 11.45 a.m., and found, that, in conjimction 
with the three or four other peaks to the W. and N., it describes 
the side of an immensely large crater of a circular form. These 
peaks on the summit of the Yokul are so precipitous, that the mass 
of ice has in different places disengaged itself, and fallen do^vn from 
them, leaving a number of black calcined rocks, the tops of which 
are covered with hats of frozen snow, and for the most part inac- 
cessible, as a single false step would inevitably precipitate the tra- 
veller into the imfathomable chasms at their base. The barometer 
feU here to 22° 6'', or 5° 10^", from what it was at Qvisker. The 
thermometer, at the same height with our eye from the surface of 
the Yokul, stood at 1 1^° of Reaumur. The atmosphere was clear, 
and the wind blew keenly from the N. We could not discover 
any irregularity of the compass, and the whole of its variation was 
two points towards the W. 

" The prospect was naturally enchanting. We had a view of all 
the Yokuls and moimtains towards the N.E., between the spot on 
which we stood and Homafiord, and the situation of Mafabyg-dir, 
a little to the N.W. of Breida-mark mountain, from which two 
chains of sandy and stony mountains project towards the S.E., to 
the spot where the river breaks forth from the foundation of the 
Yokul. Towards the W., the Eyafialla Yokul rose majestically 
before us, and in a northerly direction we could descry the summit 
of Sniafiall, but were prevented from seeing the regions in the in- 
terior by the peaks of the Yokul intercepting our view. 

" We again reached Qvisker, much fatigued, about 4.30 in the 



Note 3. 

The following is a list of plants which I collected during my 
tour. For their classification and names I am indebted to the 
kindness of Mr. Babington. I have added the names of the places 
where I gathered the different specimens, but because the name of 
a single place, or of one or two places only are placed opposite the 
name of a plant, it does not at all follow that the plant is not to 
be found in many other places. I may add that I know nothing 
about botany, but was induced to make this collection at the 
request of a friend. 


Thalictrum alpinum, Linn. Akreyri. 

Ranunculus acris, Linn. Between Reyni-vellir and Holtar. 

Papaver nudicaule, Linn. Jokul-dalr near Stafa-fell. 


Arahis petraea, Idnn. Geysirs, 

Cardamine pratensis, Linn. Raud-nef-stadr, Eeykja-vik, Volasel. 

Draba ineana, Linn. Modru-dalr. 

CapseUa Bursa-pastoris, Linn. Modru-dalr. 

Cakile maritima, Scop. Keykja-vik. 


Viola tricolor, Linn. Akreyri. 


Silene maritima, With. On sand by the river near Valthjof-stadir. Hof 

near Torfa JokulL 
Silene acaulis, Linn. Kaud-nef-stadr, under Orcefa Jokull, near My-vatn. 
Lychnis alpina, Linn. Amar-vatns-heidi, Surts-hellir. 
Spergula arvensis, Linn. Keykja-vik. 
Arenaria norvegica, Gunn. Breid-dals-heidi. 
Cerastium alpinum, Linn. Akreyri, Geysirs, Kaud-nef-stadr, Keykja- 

hlid, Kalmans-tunga. 


Geranium sylvaticum, Linn. Near Beru-fjordr, between Grim-stadir, 
and My-vatn. 


Vicia Cracca, Linn. Kaud-nef-stadr. 
TrifoHum repens, Linn. Heina-berg. 





.1 J. I 


Spiraa Ulmaria, Linn. Between Reyni-vellir and Holtar. 
Dryas octopetala, Linn. HaUorm-stadr-hals, Geysirs. 
PotentiUa Comarum, Nesl. Reyk-holt, Akreyri, Selsund. 
Potentilla alpestris, Hall. Breid-dals-heidi. 
Geum rivale, Linn. Hvita, Skaptar-tunga. 
Alehemilla vulgaris, Linn. Akreyri, Raud-nef-stadr. 
Alchemilla alpina, Linn. Geysirs, between Reyni-vellir and Holtar, near 
Stafa-fell, Mikli-bcBr. 


Epilobium latifolium, Linn. Sandy river-bed, S. E. of Torfa Jokull, under 
Orcefa, Skeidarar Sandr. 


Sedum Rhodiola, B.C. Alfta-^'ordr. 

Sedum villosum, lAnn. Breid-dals-heidi, Akreyi, S. of Ok Jokull. 


Saxifraga aizoides, Linn. Jokul-dalr, near Stafa-fell, Breid-dals-heidi 
Saxifraga Hirculus, Linn. Breid-dals-heidi, Jokul-dalr, Stafa-fell, Hvita, 

Saxifraga ciBspitosa, Linn. Selsund, Breid-dals-heidi. 
Saxifraga hypnoides, Linn. Raud-nef-stadr. 
Saxifraga stellaris, Linn. Sandy river-bed, S. of Torfa Jokull. 
Parnassia palustris, Linn. Geysirs, between Reyni-vellir and Holtar. 

Angelica sylvestris, Linn. Beru-fjordr. 


Galium borcale, Linn. Selsund. 

Galium pusillum, Linn. Raud-nef-stadr, Kalmans-tunga. 

Galium verum, Ldnn. Selsund, Jokul-dalr, near Stafa-feU. 


Erigeron alpinus, Linn. Geysirs, Breid-dals-heidi.' 

Gnaphalium norvegicum, Gunn. Breid-dals-heidi. 

Matricaria inodora, Linn. Mikli-boer. 

Achillea Millefolium, Linn. Valthjof-stadr, Modru-dalr, Akreyri. 

Apargia autumnalis, Willd. Beru-:Qordr. 

Campanula rotundifolia, Linn. Beru-fjordr. 

Calluna vulgaris, Linn. Orcefa Jokull, Grim-stadir. 
Vaccinium uliginosum, Linn. Breid-dals-heidL 


GentianacecB. ' 

Gentiana Amarella, Linn. Selsund, Stein-holt, Hraun. 
Gentiana campestris, Linn. Selsund, Beru-fjordr. 
Gentiana nivalis, Linn. Stein-holt, Leir-hnukr. 
Pleurogyne rotata, Griseb. Modru-dalr, Arnar-vatns-heidi. 


Myosotis arvensis, lAnn. Raud-nef-stadr, Akreyri. 
Myosotis coUina, Hoffm. Beru-fjordr. 


Rhinanthus Crista-galli, Linn. Raud-nef-stadr, Knappa-veUir. 
Euphrasia officinalis, lAnn. Upsalir, Breid-dals-heidi. 
Veronica alpina, Linn. Breid-dals-heidi, Hallorm-stadr-hals. 

Thymus Serpyllum, Linn. Breid-dals-heidi, Mikli-boer. 


Pinguicula vulgaris, Linn. Selsund, Stein-holt, Raud-nef-stadr, Knappa- 



Armeria maritima, Willd. Reyk-holt, under Orcefa Jokull. 


Polygonum viviparum, Linn. Akreyri, Hallorm-stadr-hals, under Orcefa 

Jokull, near My-vatn. 
Rumex acetosa, Linn. Breid-dals-heidi. 
Oxyria reniformis, Hook. Breid-dals-heidi. 

Empetrum nigrum, Linn. Oroefa Jokull, near My-vatn. 


Salix lanata, Linn. Heidi. 

Salix herbacea, Linn. Breid-dals-heidi. 

Juniperus nana, Willd, W. of Skjald-breid, My-vatns Oroefi. 


Habenaria hyperborea, B. Br. Geysirs, Selsund, Buland, Prest-bakki, 
Stein-holt, between Reyni-vellir, and Holtar. 

Tofieldia palustris, Huds, Akreyri, Breid-dals-heidi. 




Jimcus balticus, WiUd. Upsalir. 


Eriophorum angustifolium, Linn. Upsalir, Grim-stadir. 
Carex rigida, Linn. Breid-dals-heidi. 


Elymus arenarius, Linn. On sand-hills, in the desert below Hekla, be- 
tween Stori-vellir and Hekla, Modru-dalr, Grim-stadir. 


Equisetum umbrosnm, Willd. Skjald-breid. 


Woodsia ilrensis, R. Br. Selsund. 

Cjstopteris fragilis, Bernh. Mikli-bcer, Selsund, Surts-hellir. 


Lyeopodinm Selago, Linn. Surts-hellir. 
Lycopodium selaginoides, Linn. Orcefa Jokull. 

"This is a very interesting set of pLants, chiefly because it 
was formed in parts of Iceland from whence we have not pre- 
viously received any collection. With the exception of a small 
packet formed near Akreyri, on the north coast, by Mr. Isaac 
Carroll, of Cork, in the com-se of the summer of 1861, all our 
previous knowledge of the plants of Iceland was derived from an 
examination of the south-western part of the island. As might be 
expected to be the case in a collection made by a traveller who 
did not make botany the primary object of his tour, it is wanting 
in some respects. But few of the less conspicuous plants are 
contained in it. It is especially deficient in the orders Composite, 
Ericacece, Ametitifercey Orchidacece, Juncacece, Cyperacece, Gra- 
minece, and Filices. There is no addition made by it to 
the known flora of Iceland. I hope, as soon as other engage- 
ments will allow, to draw up a more scientific accoimt of this and 
Mr. Carroll's collections, in conjunction with a review of the list 
of plants gathered by myself in Iceland in 1846. 

"(Signed) Charles C. Babington. 

"March 18, 1862." 






VOL. I. 



W! ' 



MT Kennedys Bout£ — . . , „ 
MrMUvians Route ____ 

*i Crirruior 

f> 3reakf<isrp2aa 

GlcLrU Cra'ofsa 





By Arthur Milman, M.A. 

The chain of the Bernina has as yet- been so imperfectly 
explored, that the following short account of an excursion, 
made by myself and brother in the autumn of last year, 
may not be altogether unacceptable as a guide to future 
Alpine travellers. It will do little more than indicate a 
new route. We made no scientific observations, buried 
no thermometers, and did not carry off one single geo- 
logical or botanical specimen. 

We arrived at Pontresiha on the morning of the 6th of 
September, 1861, and spent the remainder of the day 
lounging in the fir woods and discussing our future plans. 
The books afford so little information and advice about 
the district, that we were in much doubt as to the way in 
which a few days might be spent to best advantage. 
Hearing, however, that a new pass had been discovered 
some days previously by two English gentlemen, we pro- 
ceeded to make inquiry, and found that Messrs. Wedge- 
wood and Grove had crossed by the head of the Eosegg, 
Fex, and Scersen glaciers to Chiesa, an Italian village 
situated in the Yal Malenca, on the southern side of the 
main chain of the Alps. Some brief notes of the expedi- 
tion, which, together with the names of their guides, they 
had entered in the travellers' book at the hotel, spoke so 

K 2 


highly of the interest and grandeur of the pass, that we at 
once determined to follow in their footsteps. 

We sent for Alexander Fleuri, one of the guides that 
had accompanied the former party. He soon came in, a 
tall and active-looking man in the prime of life. After a 
few words our arrangements were quickly made. He was 
to look out for another guide or porter, and we deter- 
mined to start the next evening and sleep at a chalet at 
the foot of the Eosegg glacier, so as to shorten by two or 
three hours a long day's work, and start fresh in the cool 
air of the early morning on the ascent of the glacier. 

The next day we ascended Piz Languard. Soon after 
leaving the village, threatening clouds began to collect, 
and, wreathing themselves in fantastic shapes round the 
Piz Bernina, settled low and heavily down in the hollows 
of the Rosegg and Morteratsch glaciers. A heavy bank of 
clouds stretched gloomily over the northern horizon, whence 
it slowly but steadily advanced southwards. We hurried 
up as fast as possible, in order to attain the summit 
before the distant view became entirely obliterated. 

We passed numerous parties, all striving to the same 
end, bent on the same errand as ourselves. 

The weather this year had been so continuously fine, that 
no one had a foreboding of change, or could be persuaded 
to take a desponding view of present appearances. In per- 
fect confidence, cloaks and umbrellas had all been left 
quietly reposing at the bottom of the valley ; and it must 
be added that, in spite of dark clouds and occasional 
passing showers, the confidence was again for this day 
most happily not misplaced. It is needless to dilate upon 
the magnificent panorama of mountains that is seen from 
Piz Languard. Though its fame is comparatively recent, 
and is celebrated only in the latest editions of the guide- 
books, it already attracts a crowd of tourists, and will 



doubtless ere long rival or outrival the Righi, Faulhorn, 
or even the ^ggisch-horn. 

The distant glories of the mountains were, indeed, on 
this day partially obscured; but the masses of driving, 
clouds and curling vapour so constantly shifted their posi- 
tion and direction, that I believe, except towards the 
north-western points, we saw in succession all the chief 
features of the view, while the cloud-capped distant pin- 
nacles gained perhaps in grandeur and sublimity even 
more than they lost in distinctness. 

On returning from Piz Languard we summoned Fleuri. 
He told us that he had found a companion, one Florian 
Jenni, a brother of Peter Jenni, well known at Pontresina ; 
but he shook his head over the barometer, and strongly 
recommended us to postpone our departure for a day or 
two, in order to give the weather time to arrange itself. 
This we absolutely refused to do; and setting out at 
about 4.30 in the afternoon, we strolled up the Val 
Rosegg to the chalet where we were to pass the night. It 
is a deUghtful walk, of little more than two hours' easy 
going,— through woods and meadows, by the margin of 
a loud rushing torrent, and by springs of clearest water 
welling copiously from the ground. 

The inclination of the valley is so slight as to be scarcely 
perceptible ; and the view of the glacier in the distance, 
rising, as it seems, at the end of an almost level line, is one 
of the peculiar and most characteristic features of the 


The chalet, situated on a green pasture amid many 
streams, and encircled by the usual narrow margin or belt 
of mud, did not at first sight look very attractive ; but 
appearances were deceitful. We were received with much 
quiet civility by the inhabitants, and found the interior a 
model of cleanliness. A pile of blazing wood threw a 


ruddy light over beams and rafters, and, crackling a 
pleasant welcome, offered hospitable refuge from the chilly 
evening air. After a supper of chocolate and bread with 
freshest butter, we drew round the fire, and kept up a 
limited conversation with the shepherds. A young 
chamois-hunter was of the party. He had been out on 
the mountains for several days, but had brought nothing 
home. He spoke, however, of large herds of chamois that 
he had seen,— so large, indeed, as occasionally to seem 
almost incredible, and induce a belief that the rugged 
German and French, with now and then a slight infusion 
of Eomanche and Italian patois, in which our communi- 
cation was carried on, was perhaps a doubtful instrument 
for the attainment of accurate information. Then, on a 
luxurious bed of hay, sweet, soft, and dry, we sought and 
found such sleep and rest as mountain air and exercise 
only can impart. 

We were up and stirring at about 3.30 the next 
morning. Our guides began to boil chocolate for break- 
fast. I sallied forth for a moment to have a look at 
the weather, but soon returned shivering to the fire. A 
cold white mist brooded over everything. Fleuri said 
oracularly that the day might be wet or it might be fine 
— at any rate we could start and see. Thenceforth I 
regarded his prophecies with stem incredulity. 

We were off by 4.15, and made straight for the 
glacier, on to which we climbed by the steep sides of 
the terminal moraine. The white mist gradually but 
swiftly dissolved, disclosing peak after peak, here rising, 
there dropping, like a veil from the face of the clear blue 
sky. We had a splendid day before us. " I said it would 
be fine or wet," said Fleuri, self-approvingly, "and you see 
it is fine ; so I was right, sir." Before tracing our route over 
the glacier, it may perhaps be as well to say a few words 



upon the general configuration and topography of this 


In the chain of the Ehgetian Alps that extends from 
the sources of the Hinter-Rhein, on the W., to the 
Stelvio and Ortler in the Tyrol, on the E., there is no 
more magnificent group of mountains than that which, 
from the name of its loftiest peak, is called the Bernina. 
This group lies between the upper valleys of the Inn and 
Adda; while on its north-eastern and south-western sides 
it is bounded respectively by the pass of the Bernina and 
the Val Malenca, from the head of which you can cross by 
the Muretto and descend upon the Silser See and the 
sources of the Inn. Besides innumerable smaller tribu- 
taries, six main ice-streams flow down from its rugged 
sides,— on the N., the Morteratsch, Eosegg, and Fex 
glaciers; on the S., the Palii, Fellaria, and Scersen. 
There does not seem to be any direct passage from the 
Rosegg to the Scersen glacier. A precipitous wall of rock 
presents an insurmountable obstacle between them. To 
cross, therefore, from the crest of the Rosegg into the Val 
Malenca, it is necessary first to descend upon the Fex 
glacier, whence the head of the Scersen and Val Malenca 
is easily attainable by a direct though fatiguing route. 
This was the route that I am now about to describe. 

We struck the centre of the glacier, and continued to 
ascend for about an hour without check or hindrance. 
Then the glacier became much crevassed, and we had 
with constant winding to pick a devious course upwards. 
We kept tending to our right, and at about 6.30 got 
off the ice on to some rocks situated by the side of, 
and just under, the great ice-fall. I doubted a little 
whether we might not have arrived at the same point 
rather sooner by following a faintly marked track on the 
ishoulder of the mountain that borders the western side 


of the glacier, instead of searching our way among the 
crevasses, but do not feel confident on the subject. We 
halted for a few minutes in a sheltered nook before con- 
tinuing our upward movement. After a short climb over 
the rocks we returned to the ice, and mounted by steep 
snow-slides, with here and there a rocky islet, that afforded 
a momentary resting-place, to the upper neve. Upon 
this we emerged, passing close under " il Capiitschin," a 
dark and jagged buttress, and circumventing two or three 
enormous transverse crevasses that here split the glacier. 
I may mention that these rocky islets, that crop out 
through the ice at this steepest part of the fall, are the 
same which are seen from Pontresina, and may, by an 
effort of imagination, be so arranged as to assume an 
absurd resemblance to a human face, or, more nearly, a 
skeleton's skull. 

On the upper fields we found the snow firm and in 
excellent condition. We trudged steadily on,— Piz Eosegg, 
a grand object, immediately on our left, — and before 9 
o'clock attained the summit of the glacier, and the deep 
gap in the mountain chain that forms its ice-shed. We 
were perfectly electrified by the sublimity and magni- 
ficence of the view which here burst upon us. Imme- 
diately beneath us, flowing at the base of a precipitous 
wall of rock, the Glacier di Fex poured down towards a 
deep gorge. On the further side of it rose the smooth 
and unsullied domes of the Piz Tremoggia ; beyond that 
again, thrown up, as it were, out of a huge expanse of 
snow, the black and sen-ated edges of the Monte della 
Disgrazia, a mountain whose valleys have as yet been 
rarely visited, whose rugged head no daring Alpine tra- 
veller has hitherto attempted to scale. Far, far away 
to W. and N. were spread range on range of moun- 
tains. The chain of Monte Kosa, the Bernese Ober- 



land, and, still more distant, the mountains of Savoy, 
were distinctly visible, and stood out clear and sharply- 
defined in the transparent and cloudless atmosphere. 
It was a sight to wonder at, and feast one's eyes upon, 
not to describe. 

We were amused by the very loose and inaccurate 
manner in which it pleased our guides to give names to 
various distant peaks. Admirably acquainted with their 
own especial district, they evidently considered them- 
selves bound to be equally well instructed in the appella- 
tions of the remote and unknown hills. So, without the 
smallest hesitation, they lifted their eyes to the strange 
mountains, and incontinently christened them. Having 
determined, unfortunately, that the chain of Monte Kosa 
was the range of the Oberland, they framed their answers 
with entire consistency upon that hypothesis. Monte 
Eosa did duty as the Schreckhorn, the Mischabel as the 
Jungfrau, and so on. It was by no means obvious how 
we should be able to descend upon the Fex glacier. We 
coasted along the head of the Eosegg glacier, turning 
towards our left till we came to a sort of cut or door in 
the rock, up and through which we climbed, and, casting 
a last look at the Eosegg glacier, found ourselves on a 
pinnacle of rugged broken crags immediately overhanging 
the Fex glacier. The gate through which we had just 
passed was so narrow, and so entirely hidden by what 
may be likened to an impervious thicket of bristling 
spikes, that, seen from below, no one would imagine that 
an exit could be found in that direction. The point on 
which we were now perched still commanded a superb 
outlook, though not so extensive as that from the proper 
col of the Eosegg glacier, an intervening barrier of rock 
shutting out one portion of the distance. Monte della 
Disgrazia was still conspicuous ; and Piz Tremoggia, with 


its round and snow-covered crown, stood sentinel at the 
ridge whence the Scersen and Fex glaciers respectively 

The descent upon the Fex glacier is by an almost per- 
pendicular and difficult couloir of rock. With favourable 
conditions of temperature, it might probably be made 
without much danger. We found, however, that the 
sharpness of the frost had just iced over the rocks, and 
covered them with a thin coating, that rendered it nearly 
impossible to get any hold for hands or feet. Hands, feet, 
and baton slipped off the polished surface, and the ice was 
so entirely superficial — about the thickness of afourpenny 
piece — that the usual resource of cutting steps was out of 
the question. Under the circumstances, we tied ourselves 
together, and, first lowering Fleuri carefully down to the 
most practicable landing-place, and waiting till he had 
fixed himself as firmly as he was able, dropped ourselves 
successively upon him. Descending in this rather igno- 
minious fashion from ledge to ledge, and then coasting 
round alternate cliffs and snow-slides, we found ourselves, 
after some amusement, and a few bruises and scratches, 
safely landed on the upper slopes of the Fex glacier. 
Looking back, it was not easy to make out the line of our 
descent. We examined the precipices on this side closely, 
and fancied that at one or two other points a better path 
might have been hit upon. Fleuri, however, said that he had 
on the former occasion attentively reconnoitred the whole 
face of the precipice, and had selected the route we had 
taken as the only feasible one. In one hour and a half from 
the time we left the Rosegg-Thor, we arrived at the crest of 
the second col, which we named provisionally the Col de 
Scersen. It must be considerably lower than the Col de 
Rosegg, but we had no means of estimating their re- 
spective elevation with any degree of accuracy. The 



Scersen glacier runs at first in an easterly direction at the 
back of the Bernina chain. A line of splendid crags, 
among which, besides the mighty Piz Bernina itself, 
Monte Caspoggio, Monte Rosso di Scersen, and the Piz 
Palii are most prominent, impend over it. The inclination 
of the upper slopes of the glacier is at first very gradual; 
then sweeping round to the S. at almost a right angle, it 
topples over, and, dropping into the head of the Val 
Lanterna, disappears through a narrow rent in the moun- 
tains. We descended the glacier for about an hour in an 
oblique direction, steering towards a low reef of rocks, that 
for some hundreds of yards formed the only barrier be- 
tween the ice-river and the Val d'Entova, a branch of the 
long valley of Malenca, far below. We stepped off the 
ice on to this low reef. It looked as if a very slight rise 
in the elevation of the glacier would send a stream of ice 
falling in a new channel down the mountain. It was like 
a brimming river just ready to burst its banks. We chose 
a sunny corner, and made our mid-day halt before setting 
forth once more on the interminable descent to Chiesa. 
Fleuri told us that there was a practicable pass by which 
you might get from the Scersen to the head of the Palii 
glacier ; and, once on its surface, you could descend with- 
out much difficulty its entire length to the great road on 
the Bernina. This would probably be a most interesting 
excursion, as the Palii glacier is by many said to be the 
most exquisitely beautiful of all glaciers ; but as it would 
have been necessary to have encamped out in the forest, 
it would have required far greater preparation than we 
had made. In fine summer weather, when days are long 
and nights not too cold, I imagine that the passage might 
be effected without overmuch exertion or risk. 

Soon after 1 o'clock we were once more en route. 
The first part of the descent over the shoulder of Monte 


Nero, a ridge dividing the Val Lanterna from the Val 
Malenca, is exceedingly steep, over loose stones and 
slippery grass. A little caution was requisite to avoid a 
headlong career into the dry and rugged bed of the torrent, 
which, choked with layers of white stones, shone bright 
below. Once down among the meadows and woods, the 
road was easy enough, but it required more than three 
hours' fast walking before we reached Chiesa. We were 
long deluded by the sight of the church of the neighbour- 
ing village of Primolo. It seemed always close, but had 
an objectionable habit of constantly receding and retiring 
round the next comer as we advanced. The natives of 
the valley whom we encountered at intervals, gazed upon 
us with an air of considerable amazement, as much as to 
say, " whence, in the name of all the saints in the calendar, 
do you come ? " and when we said from Pontresina that 
morning, their ejaculations of astonishment were manifold. 
We arrived at Chiesa soon after 4 o'clock, and so con- 
cluded one of the finest walks that I have ever taken. 
We were twelve hours out, but of these at least two and a 
half were given to stoppages. 

Chiesa is a dirty, dilapidated, picturesque Italian village. 
Even there, however, is a choice of hotels. Having been 
warned beforehand in bitter terms by a friend against the 
rival establishment, we went to the " Osteria Antica," and 
were ushered through a queer passage up a forlorn and 
ruinous staircase to the best room. It contained several 
beds, but had a mouldy smell, and the bed-covers were 
strewn with the droppings of plaster from the ceiling. 
To say that the floor was dirty would be using far too 
mild a t^rm. We threw open the windows, and, coiling 
ourselves up on two rickety chairs, sat patiently waiting 
to be devoured. On our return from supper, however, we 
found, to our surprise and delight, that a wonderful trans- 



formation had been effected. Sheets of snowy whiteness 
had been disinterred from the depths of an old oak chest ; 
and as, by skilful manoeuvring, we managed to leave behind 
on the floor all the beasts with which it swarmed, we 
passed a comfortable night, and had the infinite satis- 
faction of hearing in our dreams the baffled persecutors 
gnashing their teeth in vain and impotent fury beneath. 
Three generations assisted at our supper, — an old withered 
woman, her little grandchild, and our hostess, its mother. 
The old lady was very curious as to why and whence we 
came, and sat by us with the most benevolent intentions of 
making herself agreeable. But as, on every answer to her 
questions, there followed a fervent appeal to the Madonna, 
and an impassioned expectoration towards every point of 
the compass, that made our blood run cold, we enjoyed 
the privileges of her society with very mingled feelings. 
A miraculous turta (Grermanice, I suppose, Kilchen), the 
piece de resistance of our evening meal, ought not to pass 
unrecorded. It was evidently a triumph of the chef's 
artistic genius, and was the result of my endeavour to 
explain, in intelligible patois, that, having consumed in the 
course of the day a sufficient supply of meat, we desired 
something of a more unsubstantial and airy nature for 
tea. We all parted excellent friends the next morning ; 
our large-eyed hostess apologised for deficiencies of cuisine 
and comfort, but said, "travellers seldom visited their little 
village." We replied, as was indeed the case, that she had 
made us very comfortable ; and that, as she would probably 
find herself invaded in future years by a gradually in- 
creasing number of tourists, she might easily by degrees 
set up all that was requisite to satisfy the moderate wants 
of a pedestrian. 

On the 9th of September we walked from Chiesa to 
Poschiavo by the Passo di Canciano, in ten hours, in- 


elusive of two for rest. The path follows the valley of 
Lanzada till all further progress seems forbidden by a 
gigantic barrier of rock that forms the eastern boundary 
of the valley. These rocks are surmounted by a steep 
zigzag called "the ladders." Down this hard and stony 
path the entire population of two small villages were 
carrying huge sacks of charcoal into the valley. Old men 
and women, little boys and girls, came staggering on, 
bending under the weight of a burden that seemed beyond 
all proportion too great for their strength. Their earnings 
for this labour were infinitesimally small ; but, trifling as 
it appeared, they were all, we were assured, eager for the 
employment. It was their harvest time. 

This zigzag path leads out upon a wood, after traversing 
which you descend on to a beautiful green pasture, entirely 
surrounded by noble cliffs, which, rising over a broken and 
richly-wooded rocky basin, form a second barrier, that has 
similarly to be climbed by means of another steep and 
winding track. There are a few chalets, constituting the 
hamlet of Franscia, scattered over the Alp. At one of 
these we obtained a cooling draught of milk. It is 
probably the only place on the route where refreshment 
of any kind can be procured. 

After leaving the chalet, we crossed a boulder-strewn 
glen, the mouth of the Val Lanterna, and the stream that 
flows from the Scersen glacier. Then up through shady 
woods till a second level was attained, and the path joins 
the stream that flows out of the Glacier of Fellaria, or, as 
our guides called it, the Glacier of Verona, and, following 
its course through the Campo Moro, a narrow valley, rises 
with moderate rapidity to the head of the pass. In this 
section of our journey three points of interest deserve 
especial mention. First, a superb view of the Monte 
della Disgrazia, as seen over a bright green meadow. 



just beyond the second zigzag ; it magnificently closes the 
western opening of the valley. Secondly, a very singular 
waterfall : the river runs along the bottom of a fissure 
that it has worn for itself, so narrow that the masses of 
stone which have fallen from the mountains on either side 
bridge over, and almost conceal, the tortuous rift. The 
sound of falling water alone indicates the presence of a 
river. The traveller should find that spot where the 
foaming stream is suddenly launched into a dark abyss. 
Till the eye has become accustomed to the obscurity, the 
cataract seems utterly lost, but after a time may be again 
dimly discerned swirling and eddying in the depths of its 
subterraneous channel. Thirdly, the peak and glacier of 
Verona. A short distance above the waterfall, we crossed 
by a crazy and tottering bridge to the left bank of the 
stream, and, ascending obliquely the shoulder of the 
mountain, reached the bare and desolate valley of Pos- 
chiavina, which runs almost at right angles to the Val 
Campo Moro which we had quitted. 

We rested for some hours by a clear spring of water 
that, rising at the base of the mountain, spreads an oasis 
of green and fertile meadow in an otherwise melancholy 
gorge. A few chalets — the chalets of Poschiavina — have 
sprung up by it. The peak and glacier of Verona, the 
Piz Palii, and other points of the Bernina chain, forming 
a grand group, are here seen to great advantage. Here, 
too, we take our last look at the magnificent summits of 
the Disgrazia. 

From these chalets, in another hour and a quarter, we 
arrived at the culminating point of the pass of Canciano, 
whence you look down upon the lake of Poschiavo and the 
straight valley of the Bernina, while close on your right 
the huge cone of the Piz Canciano, or Piz Fontana, with 
scanty shreds of glaciers clinging to its abrupt precipices. 


towers aloft. We descended rapidly, partly through 
meadows and partly by an aggravatingly rough and dusty 
cattle track, to Poschiavo. The third day we returned to 
Pontresina, The rain which Fleuri had all along been 
prophesying came at last ; an impenetrable mist obscured 
the mountains, and blotted out the vaunted beauties of 
the Palii glacier. A fierce and icy wind howled through 
the pass, and it was only by dint of hard walking that we 
could contrive to keep up any circulation in our chilled 
limbs. We were back at Pontresina at 1 o'clock. The 
rain had ceased soon after we had reached the northern 
side of the pass, though dense clouds still hung over the 
mountains; so that we finished our day in moderate 
comfort, and walked down to Samaden in the afternoon, 
delighted with oiu: torn- of the Bernina. 

I do not think that it would be possible to make a 
round from Pontresina that would show more of the 
peculiar features and special beauties of the chain of the 
Bernina. It can be made without difficulty by any one 
accustomed to traverse the higher passes of the Alps ; 
and, with the exception of the night at the chalet in the 
Val Rosegg, fair quarters can be obtained for every 
evening. The chalet itself is not really an exception, for 
a night may be spent there with at least as much comfort 
as in many more pretentious hotels. 

Alexander Fleuri and Florian Jenni are good guides 
for the expedition. The day that we were on the ice we 
had every reason to be satisfied with them. They were 
obliging and attentive, seemed to be skilful icemen, and 
Fleuri, at least, had a very competent knowledge of the 
country. Jenni, I believe, crossed the pass, like ourselves, 
for the first time. The next day, indeed, we had some 
difficulty in getting them on. They loitered at first 
excessively on the road, and were quite content that we 



should lose or find the way as chance would have it. 
The real truth, I fancy, was, that they had indulged rather 
too freely in the strong Italian wines at Chiesa, and were 
suffering in consequence — to use the vernacular expres- 
sion — from '^.Kazen-jammer.^^ 

The accommodation at Pontresina is as yet scarcely 
equal to the demands upon it, and the village itself is 
calamitously filthy and ill-paved. Now that the tide of 
travellers is turning that way, there will doubtless be a 
speedy improvement. The Hotel de la Vue de Bernina 
at Samaden is exceedingly comfortable, and for near ex- 
peditions would prove to be very convenient head-quarters. 
On the whole, I can imagine few places more pleasant and 
attractive as a residence for the summer months than 
some one of these villages, such as Pontresina, Samaden, 
or the baths of St. Moritz, in the Upper Engadine. 
Owing to the high elevation of the valley, more than 
5000 feet above the level of the sea, the purity and 
healthful freshness of the air is most remarkable. Lovely 
paths, branching out in all directions, lead through the 
abundant fir woods that clothe the mountain side ; while 
nothing can be more striking than the effect produced by 
the line of snowy mountains and blue glaciers that are 
seen rising close over the trees, and fringing, as it were, 
the darkness of the fir woods with a border of dazzling 
white. The whole mirrored in the clear waters of many 
a mountain lake and tarn, forms such a rare combination 
of sublime grandeur and softest beauty as can rarely be 
met with elsewhere. 

VOL. I. 



THE » kriegsmatten:' 



By Edward Shirley Kennedy, M.A. 

"Dieser Sturz der Glotscherbacho, 
Was ist also gross iind kiilin ? 
Deiner Seen Spiegelfliiclie, 
Was ist so krj'sf allen-griin ? 
Felsenwand und Schnpogofilde, 
Wald und Trift, verklarf im Inn, 
Schonstes Bild von Ernst und 3Iilde : 
Sei geghisst, meiu Engadin!" — Volkslied. 

As this rush of glacier streams, 
What ean be so grand and bold ? 
As this mirror of thy lakes, 
Wliat can be so crj'stal-green ? 
Bocky ramparts, fields of snow, 
Copse and mead, seen clear in Inn, 
Beauteous scene, severe and soft, 
All hail to thee, mine Engadine ! 

In the year 1322 of the Christian era, the Count Monfort 
assembled an armed multitude in the Ober-En^adin or 
Upper Valley of the Inn. This host, composed partly of 
inhabitants of the valley, partly of strangers from the west 
of Switzerland, was called the army of the Bishop. It 
was a wild and savage horde, too eager for plunder to 
remain long inactive. 

After a short time spent in preparation, the invaders 
crossed the mountain range of the Pizzo Vadred, and, 
pouring down upon the peaceful hamlet of Davos am 
Platz, scattered the inhabitants, burnt their houses, and 
lifted their cattle. Those who planned this raid did not 

reap the expected reward. The peasants, who had at first 
fled in fear, now turned again in courage. A brave band, 
with the chieftain Lubens Guler at their head, quickly as- 
sembled and overtook their foe in the middle of the vale of 
Dischma, at a spot called the " Kriegsmatten " or " War- 
plainJ' This name, derived from that bloody strife, has 
been proudly retained until the present day ; and fathers 
yet tell their children how their ancestors met the foe 
upon that fatal field, and how, after a hard-fought fight, 
the plunderers of their homesteads fled in inextricable 
confusion. After this defeat, the spoilers took refuge in 
the mountain fastnesses, and there, uniting with a detach- 
ment of their own party who were driving off the cattle, 
they re-formed their broken ranks, and thus constituted a 
band of no inconsiderable importance. 

Meanwhile the chieftain Domat, lord of Vatz, had 
collected a force in order to intercept their retreat. The 
victors, too, in the fight on the Kriegsmatten lost not an 
hour in the pursuit; while their familiarity with the 
mountain passes enabled them to make a detour and effect 
a junction with their friends. The "spoil-encumbered foe " 
retreated but slowly ; and when, after a toilsome ascent, 
they reached, jaded and wearied, the summit of the 
Scaletta pass, they found themselves face to face with an 
unexpected enemy — an enemy encouraged by the acces- 
sion of friendly succours, and thirsting for revenge. The 
fight was not long doubtful. Scarcely a tenth part of the 
invader's band escaped to carry home the tidings of 
disaster, while the rest of the bishop's host was pursued by 
Domat as far as Greifenstein, a spot situated near the 
junction of the rivers Albula and Landwasser, and lying 
between Filisur and Alveneu. The few who escaped the 
slaughter of battle fell in the pursuit. 

Many relics of this foray have been met with ; standard- 

L 2 




poles and morgen-sterns have been discovered, and bones 
and skulls are occasionally turned up by the husbandman's 
spade. Since that memorable day the pass has been 
called the " Scaletta " or " Skeleton " pass. 

Through the village of Davos am Platz, up the valley 
of Dischma, past the Kriegsmatten and above the Scaletta 
pass, two brethren of mountain-craft followed, in the month 
of July 1861, the route taken on that fearful day by the 
handful of combatants who sought to escape from the 
avengers of the Scaletta. My companion was John Frede- 
rick Hardy, an Alpestrian known to most Swiss readers 
and Swiss travellers. 

Who were these so-called bishop's men that carried in- 
ternecine strife and contention into the mountain villages 
of Switzerland ? Were they intruders from other lands, or 
were they aboriginal autochthones ? It has been supposed 
that some members of the band were descended from co- 
lonies of Saracens, who at various periods had succeeded in 
establishing themselves in several districts of Switzerland. 
Traces of the Arabic language are to be found in many 
spots, and especially in the neighbourhood of Saas. The 
well-known Mischabel range, that separates the Saas val- 
ley from that of Zermatt, derives its name from an 
Arabic word signifying " Middle Peak." * 

Treading in the steps of these supposed followers of the 
Arabian prophet, the explorer of this district may either 
descend by the Scaletta pass to Zernetz in the upper 
valley of the Inn, or ascend the Schwartz-horn, and 
select the Grialetsch pass to the north of the Pizzo Vadred. 
This latter route was taken by Hardy and myself. I will 
not enter into details of this part of our wanderings. 
Suffice it to say that the view from the Schwartz-horn is 
remarkably fine, exceeding, in the opinion of many, that 

♦ See note at the end of this article. 




obtained from the far-famed Pizzo Languard. It is an 
ascent strongly to be recommended. Its estimated height 
above the sea-level is 10,556 feet. We descended rapidly 
from the summit of the Schwartz-horn to a spot near 
the col of the Grialetsch pass, and, leaving a beautiful blue 
lake, almost a twin-sister of the Marjelen-see, crowded 
with snowy blocks of ice, upon our left, suddenly obtained 
a full view of the Grialetsch glacier. It was exceedingly 
grand, partly of dazzling whiteness, partly deeply crevassed 
and broken into ice-falls, with a dark moraine running 
down the centre ; while in the background, partially 
shrouded in wreaths of mist, towered the craggy peaks of 
the Pizzo Vadred. I hardly know a finer glacier view 
from so comparatively low an elevation. Descending to 
Siis, we proceeded rapidly onwards, by diligence and car, 
up the valley of the Inn, through Zernetz and Sutz, 
to Samaden. 

As we approached the town of Samaden, the . sun was 
setting, and at the same moment the glaciers of Kosegg and 
Tschierva, as well as the heights of Pizzo Kosegg and 
Pizzo Bernina, whence they flow, burst for the first time 
on our sight. That beautiful " Abend-gliihen," that 
" evening glow," which, as the sun descends, tints the 
higher snows, met our gaze. With this peculiar and 
attractive feature of the upper regions nearly all Swiss 
travellers are familiar. The enthusiastic tyro has admired 
it from the Kighi, and the cragsman has hailed it when 
seen from his night-encampment high up the mountain- 
side ; but it has rarely fallen to the lot of any to witness 
its display in greater perfection. As our eye is dwelling 
upon this glory of the even-tide, the thought that the ruby 
coronet is resting upon the head of the giant whom we 
propose to attack, adds not a little to the charm. That 
giant is now calmly resting in soft tranquillity, before he 





assumes his cold, grey night-mantle, and retires from the 
glare of day ; and he looks as though the foot of childhood 
might tread, without difficulty and without danger, upon 
the placid wreaths of snow that twine themselves around 
his brow. And now, while evening is drawing on apace, 
the ruddy warmth that suffused the Alpine realms is no 
longer seen ; each mountain outline grows less and less 
distinct, and the whole range is rapidly disappearing. 
Another minute, and night, that has already claimed the 
valleys as her own, will assert her dominion over even the 
towering monarchs of the land. But no ! The wondrous 
effects of the second illumination descend upon the ice- 
world above ; subdued yet still glowing hues tint once 
more the snowy summits, and the western light, with 
unwonted potency, throws from the mountains a shadow, 
soft, yet distinct, upon the undulating snow-field beyond. 
At the same time, the opposite horizon, as if in rivalry, is 
bathed in light, and in another moment the moon, nearly 
at her full, rises in the east. But still some time elapses 
before the west yields to the moon's increasing power, and 
long, flickering shadows, still tending towards the east, 
attest, like the wavering plumes of an outnumbered host, 
that, though the battle may be lost, the body-guards of the 
sovereign disdain to quit the field so long as their lord is 
seen striving for the mastery. 

Another hour's drive carried us from Samaden to Pont- 
resina. The ancient path following the turbulent stream, 
which forms one of the many tributaries of the Inn, came 
to an abrupt termination near the foot of the Morteratsch 
glacier. It was reserved to the skill of more modern times 
to construct the easy diligence road of the Bernina Pass, 
which, skirting the transparent lakes of Bianco and Poschi- 
avo, finally conducts the traveller into the plains of Italy. 
All this time we have followed the handful of men who 



escaped from the fight upon the Kriegsmatten; and here we 
find further traces of their Arabian origin. The term 
" Pont des Sarrasins,'' or " Bridge of the Saracens," is 
supposed to have been the earlier appellation of the town, 
and to have been corrupted into Pontresina. 

As is usual in a strange place, our eyes wandered right 
and left as we clattered up the stony street. It must have 
been a mutual sympathy in a mutual aversion that caused 
us both, while thus gazing around, simultaneously to make 
the same discovery — a discovery that tended somewhat to 
damp oiu: hopes of an agreeable ascent. We suddenly beheld 
a board so placed that none could miss it, projecting over 
the pavement, and inscribed on both sides with those 
characters which they of Chamounix have so long delighted 
to honour — " Bureau des Guides,'' Alas ! during our pro- 
gress up the remainder of the street, which, fortunately for 
our well-being, was not very long, we were haunted with 
visions of " ^ari/s," ''guides chefs,'' et id genus orriTie. 
On our arrival at the inn-door we were welcomed by the 
host, Herr Kredig, and at once surrounded by sundry 
hangers-on. I carried the poles, and Hardy, as usual, 
acting in the fulfilment of his destiny, and anticipating, as 
in a figure, his future fate, bore the rope. WTiether there 
was anything remarkable in our appearance that attracted 
attention, or whether it was the striking effect produced 
by Hardy with the rope circled around his neck, it is 
impossible to say; but, whatever the cause, our ears were 
immediately assailed by the comment, "That's for the 
Bernina ascent." 

Our first act was to fall in with the prejudices of the 
place and to desire the attendance of the " Guide Chef." 
Signor Colani, the representative of a generation of hunters, 
soon put in an appearance, and we ventured to suggest our 
wish to attempt the Pizzo Bernina. The Signor did not 



receive the proposal so favourably as we had anticipated, 
and shortly withdrew, signifying that he would send another 
guide for consultation. In the mean time supper was 
announced, but hardly had we swallowed a mouthful of 
soup, when a tall, brawny, broad-shouldered fellow entered 
the aalle^ and introduced himself as the Bernina guide. 
The consultation commenced and was carried on under 
difficulties ; for to sustain conversation in a foreign tongue 
when the mouth is full of hot soup decidedly requires no 
little skill. Our new friend told us that the undertaking 
was somewhat unusual. For this announcement we were 
prepared. He, however, so frequently repeated the ex- 
pressive sentence, '' Es ist kein Spass, meine Herren,'' 
" It is no joke, gentlemen," and by his manner gave so 
much additional weight to the words, that we began to 
think one of two things must be the case — either that our 
guide was an impostor, or else that our moimtain was very 
much the reverse. 

As a matter of course, the old difficulty arose as to the 
amount of payment. The established tariff came into 
play, and we were powerless. Although no stranger had as 
yet made the ascent, we found that a rule already existed to 
the effect that each traveller should pay 100 francs, that 
the principal guide should take what number of porters 
or subordinates he pleased, and that it should be his duty 
to &ad ropes, hatchets, blankets, and every other possible 
requisite, with the exception of provisions. To this 
arrangement we finally acceded. Thus far all was smooth; 
but our guide evidently had his suspicions that the under- 
taking would prove too much for the English travellers. 
I do not blame him for his caution. After a little hesitation, 
however, he proposed that we should together make a 
previous « Prohe-reise;' or " Trial trip," a little experiment, 
in fact, to ascertain the probability of ultimate success. 



Thus commenced our acquaintance with Peter Jenni. 
There was no friendship at first sight, no eager rushing into 
.premature confidence. On the contrary, so far as I can 
judge, there was some little misgiving on both sides. We 
thought that he started unnecessary difficulties, and evinced 
so excessive an amount of hesitation in regard to the whole 
proceeding, that we were by no means prepossessed in his 
favour; while he evidently considered that we over- 
estimated our own powers, and aspired to an undertaking 
of which we were not capable. What has been the result? 
That both Hardy and I agree that it would be difficult to 
meet with a man who so preeminently possesses all the 
qualities necessary for a first-rate guide. Let Chamou- 
niards boast of their Simond and their Croz; let Ober- 
landers point to their Lauener and their Anderegg, and 
Valaisians extol their Bortis and their Perren — all good 
men and true — yet I venture to say that all these would 
meet with their match in Peter Jenni. To him may justly 
be ascribed most careful foresight in the preparation of 
all that tends to the success of the expedition, especial 
watchfulness for the constant safety of the traveller, and 
instant readiness to render him assistance in positions of 
unusual difficulty; while in that quality which is, perhaps, 
the one most essential to the true Alpestrian, the quality 
of perseverance, he particularly excels. To him belong 
an indomitable persistency and a self-reliant disregard of 
advice offered by irresolute subordinates. Of all these 
qualities we had ample experience in our ascent of the 
Pizzo Bernina. The next morning we had an interview 
with Jenni. The " Probe-reise " was given up, for it was 
deemed unadvisable to waste, in an unnecessary excursion, 
and at a time of doubtful weather, what might prove to be 
but a solitary fine day. It was therefore quickly settled 
that we should make a start for the sleeping quarters that 



afternoon. In the mean time we sallied out, inspected 
Jenni's preparations, ordered nails to be put in our boots, 
and felt ourselves the lions of the town — the observed of 
all observers. Unable to endure the gaze of an admiring 
populace, we sought the shelter of our inn, and there 
quietly whiled away the time, by settling down to accounts, 
diaries, and letter- writing. At 1.15 dinner was served. 
Meanwhile clouds had collected, and they were now rolling 
over the mountain ridges into the valleys below. Before 
our meal was finished, the rain came down heavily, and 
a murky afternoon succeeded the brilliant morning. The 
expedition was necessarily given up. Such are the disap- 
pointments to which not only all Alpine travellers, but 
also quiet al-fresco parties in England are subject. Here 
was an opportunity for indulging in valuable novel and 
moral reflections. We must patiently bear the ills which 
" flesh is heir to," and it is well if this be done without 
too much grumbling. 

The next day it rained, and the next, and the next. 
And then even the moraliser left off moralising, and we did 
begin to lose patience, and we did begin to grumble. It is 
in such positions that the native genius of a man is brought 
out, and it is to such weather that we are indebted for the 
exhibition of another of Hardy's multitudinous powers, — 
one that under the bright glow of sunshine might have lain 
dormant for ever. In point of fact, the moraliser disap- 
peared, and the poet assumed his place. I hope the reader, 
whether fair or unfair, will grumble when he finds the 
" continuity of the narrative " broken by my companion's 
composition ; for we shall both then be in an equally un- 
amiable mood, and I shall consequently be the more sure 
of his sympathy. 


J 55 


Pity the sorrows of an Alpine swell, 

Whose sturdy limbs have brought him to explore 
The glaciers where the chamois ever dwell, 

And rocks round which the lammergeyers soar. 

With brightest hopes of many a new ascent, 

Serene he started by the Dover train, 
And, still on conquests in the Alps intent, 

Marked not the blust'ring of the troubled main. 

I saw him, wrapt in all his self-conceit. 

Expound his schemes to those who sat beside ; 

And still he promised many a mighty feat. 

On horns and stocks that never had been tned. 

With head erect, and self-approving eye, 

Of all the lesser heights he spake with scorn ; 

He patronised Mont Blanc, and thought he'd try 
Pizzo Bernina and the Matterhorn. 

Behold him now, the victim of despair, 
Close cribb'd in Pontresina's narrow inn ; 

Listless he sits upon his wooden chair, 
And sighs for honours that he cannot win. 

For, patter, patter, with incessant fall. 

Through weary days down pours th' incessant r^in ; 
And still to catch some glimpse of mountains tall 

Through steaming mists he strains his eyes in vain. 

But lo ! one vast impenetrable cloud 

Mountains and hills and vales alike enfolds ; 

While, shut within, with yells of mockery loud. 
The demon of the storm his revel holds. 

Keturn, my Alpine, to thy mother's lap ! 

Refresh thyself with British steaks and beer ! 
A sadder and a wiser man, mayhap 

Thou 'It stay in London streets another year ! 

On Monday, July 22, 1861, being the fifth day of our 
stay, Hardy and I, after our one o'clock dinner, left Kredig's 
inn at Pontresina, and walked up the village to Jenni's 



mansion, where he carried on his ordinary business of cord- 
wainer and general worker in leather. It is a curious 
fact that most of the best guides are shoemakers by trade. 
Is this because they know practically the necessity of being 
well-shod, and find all others in the trade mere cobblers ? 
We found Jenni's preparations in a forward state, and, after 
a quarter of an hour's delay, all started in an open carriage 
and one, fully equipped for our projected excursion. 

Oh that one skilled in photographic art had been at 
hand ! On the low front seat of the vehicle, or, to speak 
more Alpino, at the lower extremity of the leathern apron- 
slope, sat the driver and Jenni, with their legs suspended 
over the creva^ beyond ; immediately above the ridge in 
which the upper extremity of the slope terminated, appeared 
the heads of Hardy and Kennedy, also those of their poles, 
the lower portions of each being engulfed in the berg- 
schrund. Beyond these capital features, and at a somewhat 
greater elevation, there emerged above the highest ridge 
the heads and arms that belonged to Jenni's brother, 
Fleuri, and to his companion Alexander. So much of these 
worthies as was visible was decorated in the most formi- 
dable manner. Leather belts, and interminable coils of 
rope, gave the group the semblance of another Laocoon. 
Spikes, axes, and a hooked machine like that used by the 
icemen of the " Royal Humane Society " for rescuing per- 
sons " apparently drowned," sufifered themselves partially 
to appear ; while conspicuously across their shoulders was 
carried a somewhat novel, but, as it afterwards turned out, 
a very useful, instrument in the form of a dustman's shovel. 

We drove in this style about three miles along the high 
road of the Bernina pass, until we reached the lower end 
of the valley, down which there flows, from the Bernina, 
the " Vadret da Morteratsch," or Morteratsch glacier. It 
was long supposed that the Pizzo Morteratsch wa« the 



culminating point of the whole range, and consequently 
this peak gives its name to the principal glacier, while the 
Pizzo Bernina itself is wholly unrepresented in glacier 
nomenclature. At the junction of this lateral valley with 
the main pass, at a spot called Plattas, we alighted, and 
the short pause that ensued gave ample time to examine 
the appearance of the western sky. This was the wind- 
ward quarter ; and, alas ! the anticipations of evil that an 
occasional backward glance en route had led us to form, 
were about to be realised. A black, thundery cloud was 
creeping up, and veiling the lower valleys in a dirty white- 
ness. However, there was no hesitation ; " forwards " was 
the word. • 

The beginning of the valley is nearly level. A rude 
bridge carried us over the transparent stream that takes its 
rise in the slopes of the Diavolezza, but is almost im- 
mediately lost in the turbid water from the glacier, — a 
cloudy fate that awaits all the sparkling waters of Switzer- 
land, and that, typical of the life of man, speaks of the 
inevitable hour when beauty passeth away. It is a destiny 
common alike to the tiny rill when sportively dancing 
down the mountain's side, and to the rapid Rhone as, re- 
velling in strength and beauty, she rushes from the lake. 

We soon reached the foot of the glacier, and, keeping 
the western bank, climbed by the usual rough, irregular 
path, until we had gained the level of its surface. Again the 
path was but little inclined, and again more steep as we 
gradually rose above the glacier, and the scene opened out 
to view. A few^ heavy drops of rain warned us to hasten 

After an easy walk from the high road of about three 
hours, we reached at six o'clock in the evening the so-called 
chalet of Boval, situated at a height of some 9000 feet 
above the level of the sea. We were but just in time; 



almost immediately the storm burst forth io all its fuiy. 
The vapoury mists whirled to and fro, and writhing, as if 
in agony, beneath the blast, were contorted into the most 
fantastic forms ; while lightning played and thunder rolled 
around. The chalet, erected in the wonted alto-montana 
style of architecture, opened as wide as it could its shelter- 
ing portals. It was entirely deserted. The wind whistled 
through the crannies of the stony walls ; the fir-beams 
creaked in their uneasy beds ; the wooden shingles rattled 
on the roof; the rain drops pattered on the earthen floor; 
and the log-fire, freshly kindled, filled the dwelling \\dth 
pungent smoke. 

The five — guides and travellers — completely filled the 
hut ; at least Hardy and I had indulged ourselves in that 
persuasion. Presently, however, the two herdsmen of the 
spot appeared upon the scene— fine-looking fellows of 
the Bergamesque race, presenting a marked contrast to 
their brethren of the western parts of Switzerland, with 
bright dark eyes, wide powerful jaws, white prominent 
teeth, and manly independent bearing. They wore high 
conical hats on their heads, and clattering wooden sabots 
on their feet ; short black pipes in their mouths harmonised 
with their dark brown features, and long black cloaks on 
their shoulders formed no violent contrast to their dark 
brown legs. Their high conical hats and the long black 
cloaks were dripping wet. We could not refuse their owners 
the use of their own familiar home, and accordingly 
they entered in. The goatherd and the shepherd were 
followed by the goats and the sheep; they likewise 
entered in. These were closely followed by a she-ass and 
her foal. Hospitality could be stretched no further. There 
is a limit to everything, except it be to an infinite 
ascending series, or to the love with which such a series is 
regarded by the members of the Alpine Club. Hardy is 



naturally more impatient than I ; he accordingly levelled 
his pole and charged the latest intruders. His relatives 
fled ; but lo ! he made a discovery. The western sky was 
beginning to glow with the rays of the setting sun, and the 
thick darkness and vapour were slowly rolling away to the 


We quickly emerged into the open ; stores were unpacked 
and preparations made for the evening meal. For the first 
time we had now an opportunity of taking a survey of our 
position. Conspicuously in the foreground, rising from a 
bed of moss and Alpine roses, and partially clad with lichen 
of varied hue, a huge irregular mass of rock arrested 
attention. At a rough estimate it was 150 feet long and 



50 feet wide, with a broken and partially level surface, 
cleft and indented with numerous fissures and depressions. 
Standing upon this " coign of vantage," our position was 
not dissimilar from that occupied by a visitor to the 
Montanvert at Chamounix, save that we were at a higher 
elevation, and that our prospect was of a more extensive 
character. Looking backwards towards the north, the eye, 
following the whole lower course of the Morteratsch glacier, 
could discern, at the distance of some six miles, the abrupt 
termination which marked the ridge of its final ice-fall, 
and beyond this spot, the high road of the Bernina pass, 
winding between the bases of the Languard and the 
Diavolezza. Towards the west the rock upon which we 
stood rose some twenty feet above the general slope of the 
ground, forming a shelter to our hut, which, nestling 
against its side, seemed, from its prevailing colours and 
general appearance, to form but a portion of the whole. 
On the east, the rock went precipitously down, and almost 
overhimg the glacier some 500 feet below. Turning our 
faces southwards, we could trace the upward course of the 
glacier, with its ice-falls and its bergschrunds, its broken 
moraines and its shattered islets of rugged rock ; the whole 
enclosed by a grand irregular semicircle of snowy peaks. 
On the left of this amphitheatre rose the peaks of Mount 
Pers and the Pizzo Cambrena ; in the centre towered up 
Pizzo di Palii, Pizzo Zupo, and the crags of the Crasta 
Giizza ; while the shoulders and ridges that fell away on 
our right were the outlying buttresses of the Pizzo Bernina 

It was a fine sight to watch from this elevated spot the 
tempest's departing squadrons, as they fled before the rays 
of the western sun. Even in retreat they yielded not 
without a struggle, but hurled their Parthian missiles against 
their conqueror, as flash and report, though at ever longer 



intervals, proved that the artillery of the storm was not 
yet silenced. And now, even in the moment of victory, 
when all above is clear in azure-brightness, he who has 
driven off the hosts of darkness, the mighty sun himself, 
sinks to rest. We who have witnessed this manifestation 
of his power, are not admitted to behold the splendour 
of his imperial throne ; but glorious radiants, glittering 
coruscations from his triumphal crown, crimson and purple 
eml)lems streamed with gold, strike upwards, and proclaim 
upon the battle-field itself, in the very zenith of heaven, 
to whom the glory of the day belongs. 

The murky darkness of the storm has passed away, but 
even while we look around, the last lingering light of day 
is rapidly waning. The mellowed softness of the evening 
twilight, while the air is unruffled by the slightest breath 
and the sky is illumined by a thousand twinkling stars, 
is shed upwards upon the scene. Now another and a 
deeper darkness enshrouds us. The living lights of space 
that burn like ether-floating lamps, alone are visible ; for 
even the whitened peaks around — the last to disappear 
— are hidden from our sight. 

The guides now kindled, with the pine-logs that they 
had carried up with them, a huge bonfire in the centre of 
our rock. The whole party at this time consisted of seven ; 
the three guides, the two herdsmen. Hardy, and myself, 
and all of us negligently threw ourselves down upon the 
rock, where, wrapped in cloaks and rugs, we formed a 
picturesque group. Here we proposed to pass the night. 
The fire crackled and sparkled, the men smoked their 
pipes, and, to add to the hilarity of the evening, soon broke 
forth into songs and merriment. It has been mentioned 
already that our associates were of Bergamesque extraction. 
Can it be, that the influence of Donizetti of Bergamot was 
thus widely diffused among his countrymen, and that 

VOL. I. 







through the herdsmen's strains there floated musically the 
master's melody? At times all would, with tacit consent,, 
relapse into utter silence, and then it was that a soothing, 
and almost a melancholy feeling, would steal over us as 
we lay, far from the usual haunts of men, with every 
object in our immediate neighbourhood shrouded in im- 
penetrable darkness. At times a film would arise and 
almost suspend the sense of vision, at times a shadowy 
light diffused itself in a vague, unearthly way ; and then, 
while the lamps of heaven hung suspended from the deep 
dark vault above, around us there seemed to tower up to 
a preternatural height the weird and spectral forms of 
ghost-like mountains. 

I was pensively watching a white and shapeless mass 
floating high up in heaven, and dreamily speculating 
whether it were a cloudlet, or a snowy peak deprived by 
darkness of all apparent connection with the earth beneath 
when suddenly its upper limit was edged wdth golden bril- 
liancy. It was the moon herself; and soon the full orb 
arose, throwing a flood of light upon every object around. 
The expiring embers were rekindled ; a dead juniper tree 
was thrown upon the burning pile, and ten thousand glit- 
tering sparks, red, yellow, and purple, were carried aloft. 
Our spirits rose, and all, thoroughly aroused, looked forward 
with hopes of success to our ascent. 

All feeling of sleepiness had vanished, and accordingly 
the guides seized the favourable opportunity, and recom- 
mended us to turn in for the night. Under the circum- 
stances it appeared rather a facetious suggestion. However, 
it was half-past ten, and we adjourned to the hut, one 
quarter of which was occupied by a kind of scaffold, that, 
raised about three and a half feet above the floor, did duty 
as a bedstead. Upon this couch Hardy and I reclined. 
It was certainly a change for the better. Our eyelids 


were becoming heavy, when we were startled by a plaintive 
whine. A small white bitch, with three sightless puppies, 
nestled in one corner of the apartment, and the cry had 
been elicited as one of the hinds, thrawing himself down 
in too great proximity to the nursery,, had threatened to 
destroy the rising canine generation.. 

In a short time we were again in a dreamy dozing state, 
and past scenes recalled themselves to memory. How 
many a time had I sought to stretch my limbs upon these 
imeasy troughs, dignified by the natives with the name of 
beds! Memories of many similar scenes thronged the 
mind, as I now found myself again in similar circumstances. 
How the features of these spots are again and again re- 
peated — the old familiar low central-spiked stools — the 
well-known dull humming sound of half-suppressed voices 
— the same fitful glare from the pine-log fire, as the un- 
tended embers crumble together I 

I seemed at times to be at Boval ; at other times to be in 
spots far removed. The deluding power of the enchanter 
obtained the mastery, and, obedient to the spell of his re- 
sistless wand, I was transported to the now well-frequented 
hut upon the Col du Mont Eouge. It was the recollection 
of an excursion in 1854, during which we had there taken 
refuge for the night. Stevenson and I, having made our- 
selves comfortable, had commenced our evening meal ; but 
our companion Ainslie had departed upon an exploring 
expedition. Time had however elapsed, and we began to 
think that he ought to make his appearance ; the reflection, 
however, did not greatly disturb us, for we had confidence 
in his powers. But, while cogitating upon his absence, itj 
unexpectedly became our turn to feel that some evil was 
about to happen to ourselves ; for most fearful sounds — 
hollow, crackling, rumbling — surround us ; while detached 
fragments of the roof fall in and sadly damage our steaming 

H 2 



iness of hot bread and milk. Is it an avalanche ? Is it 
an earthquake ? Is it a tempest that has suddenly arisen ? 
And what too has become of our poor friend Ainslie? 
Thick darkness has lowered down, without warning, upon 
the earth ; overhead we hear that pattering of heavy drops 
which presages a hurricane ; while on every side yawn vast 
chasms and precipices of unknown depth. Ainslie, how- 
ever, though quite ignorant of the peculiar features of the 
spot, well knows the true direction of the chalet, and is 
slowly and carefully advancing. He is soon on treacherous 
ground, for the good alpenstock penetrates through the 
rotten surface. A few seconds more, and further progress 
is impossible. In vain he probes ahead, to the right hand, 
and to the left ; on each side the stock pierces the rotten 
surface, and in front, even at his very feet, it goes down 
into a precipice of unknown depth. 

In the mean time we have gone forth, lantern in hand, 
in search of our poor lost friend ; and find him — on the 
gable-end of the hut, imconsciously poking down the stones 
of the roof into our mess of pottage. Thus we discover 
the cause of the threatened tempest. 

So much for the transient dreams at the chalet of 
Boval. We are now no longer upon the Tete Kouge, but 
upon the shoulders of the Bernina ; and an inexorable ne- 
cessity quickly compels us to cast aside all dozing reveries, 
and to rouse ourselves up to stern realities. 

Our attention was attracted by preparations for breakfast ; 
and something less than an hour before midnight the guides 
suggested the propriety of rising. This process occupied 
but a short time. We adjourned to a moonlit sparkling 
rivulet close at hand to perform our morning ablutions, an 
operation in which, to our great astonishment and delight, 
we were joined by the guides. Such an event is almost im- 
known in the western parts of Switzerland, and it deserves. 



I think, to be chronicled in the pages of "Peaks and 
Passes." They had brought with them, too, for joint use, 
almost an entire comb — a really fabulous amount of 
luggage. However, with that and the loan of our bit of 
soap, they made a very decent toilet. 

We partook of a sort of supper-breakfast at half-past 
eleven p. M. ; and at ten minutes past twelve, on the morn- 
ing of the 23rd of July, 1861, were fairly under weigh. 
Slowly and carefully we picked our way over rugged lumps 
of rocks, generally at a level, but sometimes a little de- 
scending ; and leaving the terminal ice-fall of the glacier 
that comes down from the Pizzo Tschierva close upon our 
right, reached, at 1.15, the side O'f the Morteratsch glacier. 
The ice was exactly vertical. Two or three steps cut with 
the axe, and Jenni, like a cat, had scrambled on to the 
surface. We quickly followed; and then went on at a rapid 
pace over the hard glacier, diagonally towards the base of 
the rocks that, bounding its channel on the east, separate it 
from the Vadret Pers. Thence the route led us, by steep 
zig-zags, over snow, alternating with stiffish rock climbing. 
Our speed did not slacken; and, although no difficulty 
whatever presented itself, some little amount of caution 
was required, for we were in deep shadow. After a while 
we found ourselves upon a ridge, with the Morteratsch 
glacier to our right, and the Vadret Pers to our left. The 
inclination of the ridge gradually increased, while the de- 
scent upon our right became steeper, and the rock on our 
left seemed to fall away precipitously. As yet the ridge was 
of fair width, but it soon narrowed ; and at a spot where ad- 
ditional care was required, our course was entirely barred 
by a rocky mass, that, protruding like a huge irregular tower 
through the snow, broke the general continuity of the arete, 
and rose to a height of twenty feet directly in our path. If 
the reader, in momentary forgetfulness of his humanity, will 



imagine himself to be a venturesome membtir of the feline 
race, daintily stepping up the inclined hip of an exceedingly 
steep Louis XIV. roof, and unexpectedly encountered by a 
vast stack of chimneys, he will the better understand the 
nature of the obstacle that bade us defiance. To scale it 
was impossible ; so that while slowly ascending the steep 
snow-slope through which it pierced, we were puzzled to 
determine what proceedings Jenni would adopt. The dawn 
fortunately enabled him to see what he was about. Bringing 
the rope into use he fastened it to his waist, and slowly 
climbing dowoi, along, and around the face of the rock, he 
insinuated here and there into diminutive crevasses either 
a toe or the tip of a finger. He was soon out of sight. 
We carefully held the rope tightened upon him, and after 
about 150 feet had been paid out he called to us to follow. 
A rather novel arrangement was adopted. Jenni had pro- 
vided for each of the party a leathern belt, with a strong 
metal ring attached. The hither end of the rope was now 
passed through one of these rings and firmly grasped by 
those who remained stationary, while the other end was 
held by the invisible Jenni. Each man then clambered 
round in turn, only one effecting the transit at a time. 
The man in motion could choose his own pace, while the 
tightened rope, passing through the ring, saved him from 
those disagreeable alternations of slack and tight-rope 
dancing of which all mountain travellers complain, and 
which would try the powers of even Blondin himself. 
The device proved most successful for the greater portion 
of this, our first mauvais pas. It has one drawback. At 
those points where a gully in the rock has to be passed, and 
where it is consequently necessary to follow this concavity, 
the taughtness of the rope unavoidably makes it difficult 
to retain a foothold, and tends to drag the unfortunate 
traveller backwards into space. 



All soon found themselves alongside of Jenni; but how 
they contrived to find footing there, remains a mystery. 
He again went ahead, now climbing up rocks, now cutting 
steps in ice, and we again followed. From the spot where 
we were standing, it was necessary to step on to what, for 
want of a better term, may be called the foot of a 
couloir. But let it not be supposed that the couloir here rose 
from easy ground. On the contrary, immediately below 
this spot, it broke away precipitously in a cataract of ice, 
and allowed us to see the rugged glacier some 1500 feet 
beneath. Jenni, with his usual activity, scrambled up this 
steep slope of ice, and we, assisted by the rope, were not 
far behind. It led us up at right angles to our old ridge, 
where it terminated in a sort of gap, between the first 
tower and another massy protuberance. Here a small 
piece of rock gave limited resting-place for the foot. 
Turning at right angles to the couloir we had just ascended, 
we continued by another along the general line of the 
ridge. This was equally difficult to climb, while the 
abyss beneath yawned with more threatening aspect, and 
the wavy downward sweep that aff'orded us precarious 
footing floated seemingly in airy lightness, and now, seen 
only in plan, presented a beautiful Hogaxthian curve, dan- 
gerously fascinating to those whose aesthetic perception is 
more intense than their faculty for glacial adhesiveness. 

Once more upon our old ridge, and fairly at the 
summit of this second couloir, Jenni turned round, and 
triumphantly pointing to the vanquished giant at our feet, 
exclaimed, " Das ist die Festung der Gemsen Freiheit:' 
« That is the fortress of the chamois' liberty : " an appellation 
bestowed upon it because, if a chamois can place this 
bulwark between himself and the hunter, his freedom is 
secured. At this moment the sun rose. We were at a 
heitrht of some 12,000 feet above the sea. During the last 



hour, the necessity of cutting steps had retarded progress, 
we were consequently becoming chilly, and the warm 
beams of the sun were most welcome. It was a eforffeous 
sunrise. In the east, far beyond the broken Pers glacier 
beneath, level with the eye, and overtopping the distant 
mountains, floated bars of golden cloud, from behind which 
the imprisoned sun gradually forced his way until he shone 
clear and distinct above them all. A little to the north of 
east, rose the Orteler Spitz with Monte Crystallo; behind 
us, to the north, sank down the ridge and steep couloir by 
which we had ascended. Far away to the north-west we 
could discern the Bernese Oberland, the Finsteraarhorn and 
Jungfrau being conspicuous ; while comparatively in the 
immediate foreground, and yet at a distance of twenty-five 
miles, were lighted up the friendly features of our last new 
acquaintance the Schwartzhorn. Before us, towards the 
south, and embracing about a quarter of a mile, rose the 
peaks of the Bernina range, the Pizzo Cambrena, Pizzo 
di Palii, Pizzo Zupo. A little to the west of these, beyond 
the corridor, and seeming to crown the long vista, Monte 
della Disgrazia caught the sun's rays. On our right, the 
snow-fields, intersected by treacherous crevasses, gradually 
sloped away, and finally impended over the long corridor 
of the Morteratsch a chasm which we were seeking some 
means of crossing, and which divided us from the object of 
our hopes, — now seen rising in all his majesty through a 
cone of ice and snow, — the terminal peak of the Pizzo 
Bernina. Our shadows pointed directly towards the sum- 
mit! Were we not right to hail this as a favourable 
omen ? I called Hardy's attention to them, as they rested 
upon the snow : « Of what colour are they ?" « Sky-blue," 
he replied. "And of what colour is the unshadowed 
snow?" Most Swiss travellers have admired sometimes 
the rosy, sometimes the golden hue, shed upon the snow 



at early dawn. But on this day, such tints were entirely 
absent, and their place was supplied by a beautiful dove 
colour, rich and bright beyond description. 

Talking this matter over with my friend Isaac Taylor, 
we have been tempted to suggest some sort of expla- 
nation. I should imagine that these curious phenomena 
of blue shadows and dove-colour snow-fields, were purely 
subjective. The eye would naturally see those colours 
that are complementary to the sun-rise tints upon which 
it had just been so intently gazing. While the preponde- 
rance of the yellow over the red in the orange combination, 
would cause the blue of the shadow to incline to purple 
rather than to green ; purple being the tint also which 
dove-colour in shadow is seen to assume. 

We went steadily forwards over snow-fields that presented 
no difficulty, but demanded only careful navigation in 
order to avoid open and concealed crevasses. Unfortunately 
we could find no means of descending upon the glacier- 
corridor on our right, and were therefore compelled to 
continue a course which led us, in a southerly direction, 
higher and higher above the snow-basin that we desired 
to reach. This perpetual tramp getting rather tedious, we 
whiled away the time by giving Jenni lessons in English. 
He was an apt scholar, but circumstances not being 
altogether favourable for studying a foreign tongue, he did 
not make any very great advance. I fear his acquisitions 
were limited to the expressions — " How do you ? " " All 

serene ! " 

From English literature attention was easily diverted to 
the German language, or more correctly to the Komansch 
dialect. A subject was easily supplied. On our left hand 
is the Munt Pers, on our right hand is the Morteratsch 
glacier. Let us make a shot at derivation. Our inquiries 
are answered in this wise. 



In the olden time a comely young shepherd from the 
Graubunden was struck by the charms of a Pontresina 
damsel of high degree. The Alp on the lower slopes of 
Munt Pers, a spot near the end of the Morteratsch glacier, 
was their trysting-place. According to wont, the maiden's 
parents objected to the unequal match, and the swain 
must give up the calling of a herdsman. The lovers 
plighted their troth, and parted. He enlisted and 
obtained promotion. No tidings of his weal came to the 
ears of his betrothed, and she, goaded on by her parents 
to espousal with another, died broken-hearted. The soldier 
came home too late, heard the evil tidings, sought the 
familiar Alp, and was seen of man no more. His name 
was Aratsch. 

Afterwards, in the still of the evening, the old folk at 
the Alp would note how the damsel's wraith would enter 
the dairy department, taste the cream with a wooden 
spoon to see that all was right, and then with stealthy 
tread melt away in the gloaming. So often as she came, 
so often there floated on the pulseless air the gentle 
moan, " Mort Aratsch." They soon learnt to welcome 
her approach, for her blessing sweetened the milk, and 
under her ghostly care the yearly yield of cheese waxed 

But another herdsman arose in the land, who knew 
not Aratsch nor his maiden all-forlorn. This man was of 
a practical turn of mind, and, eschewing all milk-tasters 
save himself, he one night roughly broke in upon the 
spirit of the milky whey. She cast upon the practical 
party one mildly reproachful look, and disappeared amid 
the crash of a howling tempest. Thenceforward the once 
fruitful pasture has been barren, the cows forget to give their 
milk, and the butter will not come. The Alp is forsaken, 
the glacier has advanced with giant strides, and the soil 



once teeming with life is now riven by the wearing 
grind of desolating moraines. Hence "Mort Aratsch" 
and « Munt Pers : " " Aratsch is dead," " The mount is 


Here ended our etymological inquiries. 
During the '' Stunde'' we had progressed so far, that 
six o'clock found us at a spot almost even with the southern 
or upper extremity of the Morteratsch glacier, and im- 
mediately below the summit of the Palii. We now made 
a determined push for the glacier-bed, which we had to 
cross, and which was 1000 feet below us. An ugly-looking 
crevasse, running through the neve and parallel to the 
glacier, directly intercepted our path, and compelled us 
to make a long zig-zag before we could effect a passage. 
Another quarter of an hour brought us, at 7.20, to the top 
of the icy col, which being the lowest part of the ridge 
connecting the Bernina with the Palii, forms the snow-shed 
whence the ice flows in two opposite directions — on the 
north towards the Bernina pass, on the south breaking 
away precipitously over the Sceerscen glacier that flows 
between the col and JNIonte della Disgrazzia. At this spot 
we made our second breakfast, but were rather given to 
grumbling, as we reflected that the last two hours, although 
they had brought us thus far onwards, had not enabled us 
to gain a foot in height. 

Breakfast over, we commenced to ascend a kind of snowy 
cone— a main buttress— that springing from the snow-shed, 
and becoming steeper as we rose, finally terminated in an 
arete. The frontispiece to this volume represents this arete, 
with the Crasta Guizza in the back-ground. It possesses 
the usual characteristics— characteristics which indelibly 
impress themselves upon the memory of all who have seen 
them, and of which almost every writer endeavours, more 
or less successfully, to give his reader some idea. On our 



left the ice, with but few interruptions, went sheer down 
to the glacier of Sceerscen ; before us, and constituting 
our only line of march, the ridge rose at an angle of 35° ; 
and on our right, and suspended above the glacier far 
below it, there curled over a beautiful overhanging cornice 
of driven snow. With the ice-fall on our left, and the 
snow cornice on our right, we continued to ascend. Though 
the steepness of the incline might have caused difficulty, 
and the precipitous fall on each side have produced giddi- 
ness, yet to all appearance we had a good broad extent of 
snow, nearly two feet wide, upon which we might safely 
tread. But this was a treacherous drift, masking a pit- fall 
of unknown depth. Unavoidably keeping as much as 
possible to the right, in order to avoid the ice-wall, 
we found it necessary at every step to probe with the alpen- 
stock, so that we might not rest our weight upon the cornice. 
Thus we advanced, foot before foot, while at every thrust of 
the pole, a beautiful tunnel some two or three feet long, of 
blue snow, was pierced through the drift, and the eye, 
traversing its length, discerned the broken glacier deep, 
deep below. This is the oft-repeated tale. These are 
features familiar to every Swiss mountaineer. But they are 
features which all desire to reproduce. 

The ridge at length became so steep that a rock, smooth 
and utterly impracticable cropped out before us quite bare 
of snow. We seemed at a dead lock ; and, accordingly, a 
council of war was held. Jenni scanned the rock a-head, 
and an exceedingly queer looking ice-fall to the left, which 
eventually wound round to a spot above the rock. He 
then peered over the cornice down towards the glacier, and 
finally looked at us with an exceedingly comical expression 
of countenance, whereat we all laughed. In the mean time 
Hardy and I had been speculating as to the best mode of 
proceeding, and had signally failed, in attaining any satis- 



factory result. The other guides were equally at fault. 

*' Jenni, our guide, was a jolly old blade, 
And a jolly old blade was he ; 
He called for bis rope, and he called for his spade, 
And he called for Hardy and me." 

He then manfully went to work with his shovel, loosening 
the ridge, scattering the cornice, breaking down the icicles, 
destroying beauty, demolishing natural formations, dis- 
lodging the loose snow, and trampling the surface under 
foot. Before long, he had made a sort of platform, 
tolerably firm, and perhaps some two feet square. Upon 
this he quietly seated himself, rope in hand, and displacing 
poetic loveliness by the hard reality of prose, he substi- 
tuted for the curling cornice of snow his own sturdy limbs, 
as he allowed them to dangle over the abyss beneath. He 
next beckoned to his brother, who was contemplating these 
preparations in astonishment. We could not discover the 
clue which Jenni, with allowable self-complacency, con- 
cealed within his own thoughts. There was evidently a 
little hesitation. "Kommen Sie rmr," " Come along, then," 
said Jenni. And his brother, slowly advancing, soon stood 
beside him. The rope being securely attached to his waist, 
Jenni carefully lowered him down the face of the snow. I 
followed, supporting myself, as far as I was able, by digging 
alpenstock and heels into the wall of soft snow. Towards 
the right this wall went precipitously down any number of 
feet ; but the spot at which we began to descend it was 
about thirty feet above a crevasse which, meeting this wall 
at right angles, swept from its commencement at its foot 
gradually round the cone of snow, and preserved for a 
considerable distance, a nearly level course. 

At the bottom of the wall it was necessary to double 
oneself up so as to crawl under the overhanging icicles, and 






take refuge within the mouth of the crevasse itself. Nume- 
rous pinnacles of ice rose up within its jaws, like huge jagged 
teeth ; a few of these pierced through the covering of snow, 
others were entirely concealed; while the deep hollow of 
the crevasse itself was partly exposed to view, and partly 
covered over by a treacherous mass of soft snow. It was 
necessary to tread with the utmost caution, seeking with our 
poles some solitary spire of snow-covered yet solid ice on 
which to rest either a toe or a heel. This, however, is our 
only place of safety ; but how the last man gets down I do 
not pretend to say. It is Jenni; and his motions are 
seemingly not subject to the ordinary laws of nature. 

It is certainly a peculiar position. Here we are all in a 
row ; with snow nearly up to his knees, each man is standing 
upon his own peculiar but invisible icy pedestal. On our 
rif'ht is the wall we have descended. On our left the 
crevasse extends away, following the curve of the cone. 
At our back the massive icy wall of the cavern rises 
irregularly some twenty feet, broken and split into fantastic 
forms of the most exquisite glittering blue, and reflecting 
from its shimmering surface, in prismatic hues, the direct 
rays of the sun. As if built with angular masses polished 
and glossy, the wall forms above our heads an overhanging 
vault of Moorish architecture. The greater part is in 
shadow, but pendants starting from obscurity are suspended 
like glittering stalactites from the roof, while down the 
cavern's sides 

*' dear streamlets run, 
Blue in the shadow, silver in the sun." 

In front hangs a fringe of enormous icicles, beyond which 
we cannot pass. Like captive songsters of the grove, we 
are pent within our frozen cage, and gaze between its icy 
bars upon the wondrous world without. Deep, deep down 

beneath, is the corridor that we have passed ; while groups 
of rocks and fields of snow, peaks infinitely varied in their 
form, and tumultuous glacier-oceans, each succeeding 
each in endless profusion, extend far away to the distant 


In sport or wantonness we began to destroy the bars of 
our prison-house. Hardy and I laid about us lustily and 
ruthlessly with our poles, and the poor icicles came clat- 
tering down. The frozen fragments were at first scattered 
in every direction, but soon selected their own line of 
descent, and though they were immediately lost to sight, 
the ear long detected the peculiar sound as they rattled 
down the steep frozen snow before us. We thought it as well 
not to follow. Nor was it advisable to remain stationary. 
Time was valuable. Accordingly without further delay we 
proceeded on our march. 

For a quarter of an hour we advanced without any al- 
teration in level, following the line of the crevasse as it 
curved round the final cone, at a distance of about 250 feet 
below the summit. Thus on our right hand there fell away 
an exceedingly steep slope of snow and ice, while on our 
left the blue wall rose up with arching vault, overhanging 
cornice, and drooping fringe of crystals. At times we were 
upon the outer edge of the crevasse, and separated by it 
from the wall of ice. At times with this wall quite close 
upon our left, we carefully traced our way along the mouth 
of the crevasse, seeking beneath the treacherous snow for 
a firm foothold upon some jutting piece of ice. 

We soon arrived at a spot immediately below the sum- 
mit. Here Jenni, who as usual was leading, paused, and 
directing all to sit down upon the edge of the crevasse, he 
spent a few minutes in examination. At this moment we 
entertained considerable doubt of final success, as it was 
necessary to go straight up at an angle of 52°, through 






deep snow lying generally upon ice. Jenni now said 
that he would only take one traveller to the summit. He 
was fearful lest a large number might cause an avalanche. 
Hardy kindly wished me to go, and when I urged him 
to accept Jenni's offer he proposed tossing up. I think 
Hardy had even a greater wish for the ascent than I had ; 
and although our discussion assumed the form of one in 
which each desired to forego an advantage for the sake of 
the other, I am inclined to believe that the relinquishment 
of the ascent would have cost Hardy a greater effort of self- 
denial than it did his companion. Jenni's brother and I 
sat upon the snow and watched, not without anxiety, their 
proceedings. We could of course see every step that was 
taken. How vigorously Jenni drove his staff into the 
snow ! How carefully he placed his foot ! His object was 
to obtain the best possible hold, and at the same time to 
prevent the snow from becoming broken between the foot- 
steps. If five had ascended together, no care would have 
prevented the foot-holes from merging one into another ; 
they would then have lost their distinct separation; the 
whole track would have become a confused mass of soft 
snow, and the probability of an avalanche would have been 
greatly increased. 

Jenni's brother was by no means a jovial companion. 
In fact, we were both rather down in the mouth as we sat 
in silence. At length the silence was broken. A rush 
of snow not far from us went slithering down a steep slope 
of ice. Thereupon, my companion spoke, and hazarded 
an observation that, under the circumstances, was not of 
the most cheerful chamcter. " I have a brother," he" slowly 
murmured, " and you have a good friend, up there ; let us 
watch and see whether they get to the top, or whether 
they are killed. Look ! there is an avalanche, and they are 
climbing a steeper slope !" Had they slipped, it would 

have been impossible for us to have afforded them the 
slightest assistance. I thought action better than inac- 
tion, and suggested the propriety of descending. He as- 
sented, and we pensively began to retrace our steps, and 
slowly descended until we reached the ^' Festung der 
Gemsen FreiheiV At this mauvais pas, and in me- 
lancholy mood, we waited our companions. But how had 
they fared, as they continued their somewhat perilous 
climb ? Let Hardy tell. 

Hardy* s Narrative. 

" When Jenni, afler some minutes' consideration, informed us 
that he was ready to proceed * mit einem Herr,' both Kennedy and 
I considered this to be final as to the impossibility of the whole 
party going further, and I at once suggested that we should toss up 
for that which I knew we both desired, the chance of completing 
the ascent. Kennedy, however, refused to toss, and most ge- 
nerously gave way to me. Looking back now, I fear I was 
selfish and greedy in allowing him to do so, but the ^ Excelsior ' 
spirit is not always one of self-denial, whatever Longfellow may 
say or sing to the contrary. 

" Jenni and I now commenced the ascent of a very steep slope 
of snow, which was in anything but a satisfactory condition. 
Had we attempted zigzag, we should probably have loosened the 
whole surface snow, and been swept away with it into the abyss 
beneath. Jenni, therefore, made straight running for the sum- 
mit, going hand over hand, kneading and kicking each step into 
soHdity as he advanced. This mode of ascent brings a great 
deal of hard work upon the leader, as I discovered a week or two 
later when heading a party up the slopes of the Breithom ; but 
in those that follow, steadiness and caution alone are necessary, 
the labour for them being much the same as that required in going 
up the rounds of a ladder. 

" More than once or twice during the next half-hour Jenni was 
glad to rest for a few seconds; but at 1L5 we stood together on 
the top, and looking back saw Alexander following by himself, 
though contrary to Jenni's express orders. From the point, 

VOL. I. N 






t , » 

where we stood, a narrow ridge stretched away at the same level 
for about thirty feet, and then, turning at right angles, descended 
at a small inclination for about the same distance, where it 
abruptly terminated in a tremendous precipice, at the edge of 
which Jenni had fixed a flag-staiF in 1858. As soon as Alex- 
ander had joined us, Jenni expressed a desire to proceed to this 
point. I, however, had satisfied myself that we were already at 
the summit, for I looked down easily upon the whole surface of 
the ridge, and laying my alpenstock level upon the snow on which 
we were perched, and bringing down my eye to it, I found that 
the whole of the outlying arete was concealed by it. As this 
arete was singularly narrow and ugly-looking, I endeavoured to 
persuade Jenni to remain where he was ; but he had a reason, 
as it aflenvards appeared, for pushing on further. Fastening the 
extremity of the rope, therefore, round his waist, we let it out by 
degrees, as he crawled forward upon his hands and knees, or 
sometimes slipped along with his legs on either side. As soon 
as he reached the flag-staff, he began poking about amongst the 
snow in a most mysterious manner, till at last, with an immense 
amount of exultation, he produced a bottle, whence he extracted 
a tAvo-centime piece, that had lain their j^erdiie since 1858, and 
in lieu of which he inserted a fragment of paper inscribed with 
the names of all our party ; then carefully returning, but not 
without an awkward slip just at the angle, from which he cleverly 
recovered, he presented me with the two-centime piece with all 
due formality. 

" The view from the top was unfortunately not so extensive as 
that which we had enjoyed lower down. The clouds had 
gathered rapidly, and though far beneath us, they concealed all but 
the highest peaks in our immediate neighbourhood. While dis- 
cussing, the advantage of going along the ridge I have described, 
Jenni represented that though the point on which I decided to 
remain might be the ** hochste spitze^'' the aussicht was better from 
the foot of the flag-staff; this, however, in the then state of the 
weather did not prove sufficient inducement for me to change my 
determination. After spending nearly an hour on the summit, 
we commenced our descent, by the old steps, with our faces to the 
slope. I led the way, and found that great caution was neces- 
sary, especially towards the lower end, as we approached the 
crevasse. Landing safely upon its edge, we crept along by our 
old friends the icicles, and ascending the snow-wall, we had but 

to retrace our morning route (growling a good deal, by the by, 
at the ascent we had to make on leaving the corridor), till at 
3.30 we rejoined Fleuri and Kennedy, whom we found seated in 
melancholy, not to say sulky, solitude, the one at the top of the 
couloirs, the other on the single rock that separates them." 

The time had passed heavily, but when Hardy arrived, the 
high spirits of our successful companions proved contagious, 
and as they recounted their exploits with good humoured 
chaff the descent continued cheerily. It was enlivened 
})y one or two animated discussions as to the correct route, 
and as every one had his own opinion upon the point, of 
course the worst one was selected ; but it mattered not ; we 
were not in the humour to be stopped, and it would have 
required an unusual obstacle to have turned aside those 
who had conquered and reconquered the "Festung." 
After one or two steep and rapid glissades, we reached the 
head of the glacier, and, entirely avoiding Boval, selected 
the right or eastern bank. According to Jenni's expe- 
rience of the previous year, this line ought to have 
presented easy travelling ; but since that time, an extra- 
ordinary change had taken place, so that after many 
fruitless attempts, now backwards, now forwards, now right, 
now left, we found the ice wholly impracticable, and were 
therefore compelled to take the centre. Here, however, we 
were once more bewildered with the extent and intricacies 
of the crevasses. Darkness was rapidly drawing on ; we 
began to fear the chance of a night upon the glacier. 
Alexander and Jenni's brother rebelled against the au- 
thority of our chief, and counselled retreat, with the view 
of reaching the left bank at a higher point and thence 
forcing our way up the rocks to the chalet of Boval. 
They urged the absolute impossibility of further advance 
down the glacier from the spot where we stood, and, 
by way of additional weight, threw in the consideration 

N 2 




that even the accommodation of the hut was preferable to 
night quarters upon the ice. If this course were to be 
adopted, there was not a moment to spare, for during our 
short consultation the evening gloom had perceptibly 


Then it was that Jenni's resources and the determination 
of his character were conspicuously disclosed, while we — 
somewhat moodily contemplating a nasty-looking shingly 
ice-bridge which we had no desire to cross, unless it were 
absolutely necessary, — allowed him to get some distance 
ahead. Save those who have been placed in such positions 
of emergency, none know how hard a thing it is, after a 
long day of incessant toil and watchfulness to persevere, 
against opposition, in a right but difficult course. To 
adhere, through good report and through evil report, 
unflinchingly to the path of duty, to be not unduly elated 
by approbation, nor depressed one jot by censure — is an 
attainment to which all aspire. And surely it is not 
amoncr the least of the merits of these our Alpine excur- 
sions that they inevitably call into action this noble 
quality of the mind : where hitherto absent, it is created ; 
and where nature has already been lavish in her gifts, it 
becomes most highly developed. Dare any one say that 
Jenni's bright example shall be barren of good results ? 
And who shall limit the beneficial effects thus produced ? 
May we not believe that Jenni's conduct shall yield fruit, 
not merely unto those who were witnesses of it, but also 
unto many to whom the knowledge of it shall be brought? 
Not a thought did he give to the idea of retreat, except 
indeed when we forced it upon his notice, and then he 
treated the suggestion with the scorn it merited. " On- 
wards," was his word ; " Wir mussen vonvarts," " We nmst 
forwards." There is something grand in the efforts made 
by this uneducated and unpolished son of the valley. 



Having evinced considerable hesitation before venturmg 
upon the ascent, when he has once determined upon it, 
he throws his whole soul into bis, he provides every 
possible requisite and he carries through the undertakmg 
to a successful issue. Watch him! Nothing stops him ; 
leaping wide chasms - winding with a slight balancing 
twist of the body across narrow bridges, cutting with a 
single swing of his axe a couple of steps in the steep side 
of a crevasse, accompanied with an upward spring and a 
iump down upon its opposite side, onwards he leads at a 
most rapid pace. He bids us follow and so indeed we do. 
He has at last cleverly obtained the clue to this intricate 

"" Tight is rapidly closing in, and it seems doubtful 
whether, even with all the rapidity and decision of our 
guide, the glacier net-work will not prove triumphant, and 
hold us within its meshes until the morning light. One 
thing at least is evident -that had we turned back at the 
doubtful point, a night on the glacier would have been 
inevitable, as darkness would have overtaken us long 
before the bank had been attained. And now we are 
compelled to move more slowly ; for the varied shades are 
xnost deceptive, and the nature of objects is almost 
undiscernible. We see a level space before us; it turns 
out to be a steep projection, and we stumble forward upon 
our shins. A dark spot offers a rocky foundation for the 
foot ; it is a piece of shale at the bottom of an ice-pool, and 
we are up to the knees in water : but there is no time for 
thought, and we scarcely know whether the water is cold 
or hot. But "What is that ahead?" We can feel that 
Jenni smiles as he replies, " That is my beacon-light ; I 
ordered it - it was wanted for the ascent. I promised to 

provide everything." 

Another half hour, and we are off the glacier; the 






' \ 

})eacon-liglit is dancing upon the wekjDming faces of 
Jenni's friends, and upon the shining surface of the wine- 
bottles that they carry. Again Jenni's voice is heard — 
" These are my friends — this is my wine — I promised to 
provide everything." Is not Jenni a brick of a guide? 
And do we not all shake hands ? And do we not heartily 
pledge each other as again, and again, and once again we 
quaff copious draughts of exhilarating nectar from the 
foaming goblet? There is but one trifling objection. 
There are no copious draughts, there is no exhilarating 
nectar, there is no foaming goblet. We must content 
ourselves with meagre tantalising sips of dull thin wine, 
out of diminutive india-rubber cups. 

A quarter of an hour was agreeably spent in congratu- 
lations, and then, following the little foot-path, we soon 
found ourselves once more upon the high road. Here a 
carriage awaited us. Nothing loth, we quickly jumped 
into the car. It was a gorgeous contrivance, dra^vn by a 
white pony, with Jenni and his friend Walter seated on the 
low bar in front. We started at a good pace, but in ten 
minutes a boy made his appearance and told the diiver to 
proceed slowly. The idea immediately struck us that some 
kind of ovation was in preparation* This idea was confirmed 
when Jenni produced two brilliant bunches of artificial 
flowers tied with flowing white ribbons, which he proceeded 
to fasten upon our hats. It was Jenni's carriage; they 
were Jenni's ribbons. He promised to provide everything. 
In five minutes Herr Saratz, the President of the Republic 
of the Ober-Engadin, and his brother greeted us, one on 
each side of the carriage, and presenting us each with 
a bouquet of fresh flowers, congratulated us upon being 
the first strangers who had made the ascent of the Pizzo 

The whole population had turned out to meet us. They 

fell in behind the carriage, and then passing in single file 
on each side it, every man raised his hat and saluted. As 
we neared the village of Pontresina the carriage stopped 
before a huge bonfire, and the band played " God save 
the Queen." Hardy and I felt that our triumphal entry 
was wholly undeserved, and were quite unable to express 
our sense of the kind feeUngs that had suggested it. All 
that we could do was, with a bouquet in one hand and a 
decorated hat in the other, perpetually bow to the assembled 
multitude. We afterwards ascertained that it was to the 
kind consideration of Herr Saratz that we were indebted 

for the ovation. 

Proceeding slowly onwards, with the band in front play- 
incr lively airs, we at length reached our hotel. Here the 
crowd became thicker, for every one seemed envious to 
congratulate and shake hands with the Englishmen. 

A capital supper was ready. We invited the guides to 
partake. The band played cheerily during the meal. We 
pledged one another in the sparkling wine; and as we 
recalled the incidents of the day, and dwelt upon the 
difficulties that, in mutual trust and with mutual aid, we 
had to-ether overcome, we felt that a kindly feelmg had 
been established. Hardy and I will always look back 
with satisfaction upon the excursion, and our three guides 
mil never regret the day on which, with so much skill 
and determination, they assisted the two Englishmen to 
scale the heights of the Pizzo Bernina. 





Note 1. 

(From " Sinai and Palestine," by Arthur Penrhyn Stanley, D. D.) 

" It appears that in the ninth and tenth centuries, the valley of 
Saas was occupied by a band of Saracens ; and M. Engelhardt * 
ingeniously, though in one or two instances fancifully, derives the 
existing names of the localities in that valley from these strange 
occupants. Amongst these are the Monte Moro — * Pass of the 
Moors' — the two villages or stations of Abnagal, and the moun- 
tain of Mischebel ; of which the former, by the likeness of its 
first syllable to the Arabian article al — the latter, of its termi- 
nation to the word gebelj certainly confirm the hypothesis. 
But the most curious and the most probable is the name of the 
huge glacier through which rushes the wild torrent of the Visp. 
Hardly two objects less like can be conceived than that mass of 
ice, with its lake reflecting the glaciers in the tranquil water, 
and the abundant stream gushing from its bosom, on the one 
hand; and on the other hand, the scanty rivulet or pool in the 
rocky bed of the desert, fringed with pahn or acacia. But this 
was the only image which the Arabs had of a source or spring of 
a river. And * Al-al-*Ain,' accordingly, is the present name of 
of the glacier of their Alpine valley." 

Note 2. 

The Pizzo Bemina was first ascended by the geometrician 
Herr J. Coaz, of Chur, on September 13th, 1850. He left the 
inn on the Bemina pass at 6. a.m., got on to the Morteratsch glacier 
near its terminal moraine, and walked up its centre. He was 
delayed by the crevassed state of the upper portion of the glacier, 
and did not reach the summit until 6 p.m. Although so late, he 
remained there, building a stone man and enjoying the beauties of 
the simset. It was dusk before the descent was begun; but, 

* " Valleys of Monte Rosa." 

favoured by the moon, the party persevered, and finally reached 
the inn at 2 a.m. All weariness from the ascent was speedily 
forgotten in a glass of old Veltiner, and nought remained save 
memory's inextinguishable charm. 

The next and only other ascent was made by Herr Saratz, the 
President of the Ober-Engadin. From youth he has been a 
lover of the mountain-world, a hunter of the chamois and the 
bouquetin, and a keen explorer of these inmost recesses where 
nature is seen in her greatest beauty. He longed to try that 
venture which Coaz had achieved. Accordingly, at 3 a.m. on 
October 2nd, 1858, he left the Bernina inn, taking but a small 
store of provisions, but not neglecting rope, axe, and other 
moimtain requisites. He reached the head of the lateral valley 
that descends from the Pers glacier to the Bernina pass, at 6. 
He then took to the ice, and, passing the Festung, gained the 
ice-shed at the head of the Morteratsch glacier at 11. He 
reached the summit at 3 p.m., and, after remaining there an 
hour, commenced a rapid descent which brought him to the 
Bernina inn at 10 p.m. 

Flora of the Ober-Engadin. 

1. Samaden. 

Viola pinnata. 
Cirsium eriophorum. 
Saussurea alpina. 
Cerinthe alpina. 

Kanunculus pyrenseus. 

Draba frigida. 

Dianthus glacialis. 
Arenaria biflora. 
Phaca frigida. 



Epilobium Fleiseheri. 
Phyteuma Scheuchzeri. 

Androsace septentrionalis. 
Salix pentandra. 
Scirpus alpinus. 

2. Samaden Alp. 

Potentilla frigida. 

Saxifraga stenopetala. 


con tro versa. 
Eritrichium nanum. 
Aretia helvetica. 
Chamaeorchis alpina. 
Avena subspicata. 

3. Celerina. 

AUium strictum. 
Carex bicolor. 




Oxytropis lapponica. 
Hieracium alpinum. 
Gentiana lutea. 


4. Celerina Alp. 

Geranium aconitifoliiim. 

Aqiiilegia alpina. 
Achillea nana. 
Sempernvum Wulfenii. 
Senecio carniolicus. 

Gentiana punctata. 
Salix glauca. ' 

5. St.Moritz, 

I Linnsea borealis. 

6. Pontresina Alp, 

Pedicularis irearnata. 
Primula latifolia. 
Allium Vietorialis. 
Sesleria disticha. 

7. Slopes ofTiz Languard. 
Ranunculus glacialis. | Androsace glaciaUs. 

Cerastium glaciale. 

Carex VahUi. 

8. IJear Top of Pi2 Languard. 
Gentiana bavarica. I Poa minor, 

glacialis. I 

Lychnis alpina. 
Cerastium latifolium. 
Sedum villosum. 
Achillea moschata. 
Phyteuma humile. 
Gentiana brachyphylla. 
Polemonium csenileura. 
Pedicularis atrorubens. 

Astrantia minor. 
Bupleurum stellatura. 
Gnaphalium supinura. 

Papaver alpinum. 
Alsine recurvum. 

Saxifraga Seguieri. 
Saussurea alpina. 
Phyteuma pauciflorum. 

9. Bemina Pass. 

Lloydia serotina. 
Tofieldia borealis. 
Juncus .Tacquini. 

Eriophorum Scheuchzeri. 
Elyna spicata. 
Avena versicolor. 

10. ValUy of Bosegg. 

Gentiana Charpentieri. 

Dracocephalum Ruyschianum. 

11. Cambrena Glacier. 

Geum reptans. 

12. Piz Bosatsch. 

Primula latifolia. 
Androsace glacialis. 
Aretia glacialis. 






Many of these specimens are not confined to the particular locality under 
the name of which they are included. 


-JC Dodtron's Bouts . 

Talue of References 

1 MontBroalia^ 

2 Movl-BJanc 

3 Bosse duDrjmaJairc 

4 Jjarme cU i^crCcte 

5 AiorwHe d^ (kniie 

6 !^e&?usse 'orBori^e; 

7 Rerre Rond& 
BAywlie iUBelUx'ut 
9jitaialU de BiorwisscB^- 

lOjfjrOr Tricot 

11 MsnZ T5 rassa^ 

12 ChjUets lie Tncot 
UCclde Tricft 
14 Chalets i^Juoife 
IbKochers de^^iaje 

18 Corridor or' Cpubir 'rroh^ie route Tar ascait <■•- MiSi 
\9AigwJ0f dfXijje 
20 Jdontx^ne cU Tru 

21 Aicnatle If Berjjwgr 

22 M illon , ie Tr,=MSk 

23 JfonzTon^ o'- Txnjiai 

24 Col .i; TcriMji or Trdatete 

26 (o7 '?. 'j^'"y^§fW L^io^*7r«taj^ancMi-£j£«<*K 

28 j^uHle ^^TrAateU 

ZBA^Tfpt dcscait atVingcff^ summitof L-iader 

l^dLiqrxnde irjm (rt^ider dt JuLxaf 

ivc Jl- 'C?vL?irs 


Xtmdon: JjOTujrrum & Co- 

Map of tlie District 

mo:n"t blakc 

and. tlic 

COL DF bo:n^homme 

J MontBraah.-i 
Z Mont Blah c 

3 Bosse .iu Jyrjrruid.vre 

4 2)cmu A- CT.1I/A-: 

5 AundlL; .i- tnnife 

6 Tiie Roiisse 'erRou^jie ,. 
7 1'iirrf Boruie 
SJJjiuUe cl }' " ' 


12 chalets de Tricot 

13 U7Z >i? TrLvt 
I't Chjle.ts J^Jfijxiff 
loJiochers ,{e AfLrje 

,17 Col it'JIi.iiK 

18 CorriAv or Ccuiy--- -.■' •• I' . ' 

3-1 ix'? .i^ 21m.u/ or Tn'<'t,' 
Z6Aur.iili^ lilt 'rlaaer _ , ., 

28^&n(37i? .if Trelatke 

Z3A}rru.j>t descent Mtiifui^^^ si.nmit of (Ma^u^ 
de jycJj<jrj(Tut-: ■frjm^.Vj.xfr Je J^'..Wi• 



LonSon: Lonprrujn. & Co- 


By J. G. DoDsoN, M.P. 

Every now and then there appears a disposition among 
certain persons at home to decry those expeditions to the 
" High Alps," which have become so much the fashion of 
late years. In the dull season of the year newspaper 
writers or correspondents, for want of something better to 
attack, set to work to write down the Alps or the Pyrenees. 
Ascents of peaks and passages of cols, unless excused by 
some distinct scientific purpose, are pronounced to be 
rash and px jfitless. As a matter of fact, it is not ques- 
tioned that such adventures are numerous and accidents 
rare ; but, say the wise utilitarians, why run any chance at 
all of rolling over the edge of a cliff or vanishing down a 
crevasse ? Cui bono ? Still, if that were all — 


I demens, et saevas curre per Alpes, 
Ut pueris placeas, et declamatio fias." 


" Break your own neck, if you choose,^ — be a nine days' 
wonder, and perhaps arrive at the distinction of a leadino- 
article on your death and your folly ; but," adds the mo- 
ralist, '' you are worse than foolish if you selfishly tempt 
poor peasants with your gold to expose their lives to 
gratify your recklessness or your vanity. Notwithstanding 
all this excellent advice, Alpine excursions, undertaken 
with due precaution, and under proper guidance, are not 





on the average attended with greater danger than other 
amusements involving physical exertion and the excite- 
ment attendant on difficulty or risk, when these are en- 
countered and overcome by skill and activity. Nor is the 
profession of a guide more hazardous than that of many 
who in other ways minister to the sports and recreations of 
English gentlemen. Alpine perils there no doubt are, — let 
there be no mistake nor illusion on this head, — and these are 
no more to be despised or trifled with, particularly by the in- 
experienced, than are the dangers of the ocean. Winds and 
waves, rocks and shoals, however, are not held as furnishing 
sufficient reasons for consigning a yachtsman to Bedlam. 
The use of Alpine expeditions is of similar character with 
that of a run across a stiff country, — of a cruise at sea, — of 
a hard day on the moors, — or of many other exercises in 
which Englishmen indulge unrebuked. It braces the 
muscles, steadies the nerve, gives readiness to eye, hand, 
and foot, and fresh health and vigour to the whole frame. 
All, however, in a higher degree. Neither the breeze of the 
Atlantic, nor the clear air of the desert, nor the bracing 
atmosphere of Scotch hills or English downs, can vie for 
one instant with the inspiriting, life-giving breath of the 
glacier. I speak from experience. I had been a good 
deal out of health, and not a little out of spirits, for two 
years. I had tried hard work, — I had tried relaxation from 
all work, — I had tried hygiene, orthodox medicine, and 
heretical cures. Nothing would do. In the autumn of 
1859 I was persuaded to try Switzerland. It did not 
cure me, but it effected much. Before I left England it 
was pain and grief to crawl up a Malvern hill. Before I 
had been six weeks in Switzerland I made the ascent 
of Mont Blanc, and enjoyed it thoroughly. 

On the 5th of September, 1859, we started from M. 
Eisenkramer's excellent hotel, the Union, at Chamounix, 

intending to make a tour of Mont Blanc, and return by 
the Col de Miage. Our party consisted of three English- 
men and three guides. The English were Mr. Greorge 
Sackville Lane Fox, the Kev. T. W. 0. Hallward, and 
myself. The guides were Fran9ois Cachat, Fran9ois Couttet 
(Baguette), and Peter Bohren of Grindelwald. Fox had 
the preceding year made several grandes courses (including 
successful ascents of Mont Blanc and Monte Eosa), ac- 
companied by the faithful Bohren. He had this season 
already crossed the Strahleck and other Oberland passes. 
Cachat had attended Mr. Wills over the Glacier du Tour, 
as those who have studied the transactions of the Alpine 
Club may remember. Lastly, Couttet, sumamed Baguette 
from his ramrod legs, and to distinguish him from another 
Francois of the same name, had explored one side of the 
Col de Miage with Mr. Coleman in 1858. Three better 
or more trustworthy guides could not easily be found. 

We stayed the first night on the little inn on the Col de 
Balme, and proceeded next day by the Glacier du Tour to 
Orsieres. When we left our sleeping-quarters the dawn 
was close and murky. It was somewhat dreary work 
crawling and clambering between light and dark over 
rocks slippery with the early frost. We reached the 
glacier, and plodded on over a wilderness of snow, dim, 
trackless, noiseless. So weird and unearthly was the 
scene, so congenial a haunt for spirits, that it would not 
have been startling, — nay, one almost expected at any 
moment to become aware of white-sheeted phantoms 
gliding beside or across one's path. After a while the 
sun dispelled the leaden-coloured mist, and then — 

" The bright beams of frosty morning danced 
Along the spangled snow." 

As the sun rose higher, not only the early mist, but the 





very atmosphere itself, seemed to disperse and disappear, 
while a flood of light poured down from above, and was 
reflected with such intense brilliancy, that the glaring 
snow-plain we trod on became as dazzling as the god of 
day himself. The only relief to the eye was afforded by 
the rich ochre of the truly " Golden Needles." They rose 
towering from the snow around, some shining in naked 
purity, others clad in mantles of glittering frost and 
encircled with coronets of sparkling diamonds, each dif- 
ferent in form from the other, each varying from itself as 
the point of view was shifted, yet all alike bold and grace- 
ful ; obelisks and pyramids such as no Pharaoh ever reared, 
pinnacles and spires such as no temple built with hands 
ever boasted. 

Why the Tour is not a more frequented route I am at a 
loss to conceive. It is not difficult, and certainly is of 
surpassing beauty. * The rolling fields of snow abound in 
crevasses ; but as we were all harnessed with ropes they 
only afforded matter for merriment, as now one, now 
another of the party, blundering and floundering through 
the treacherous footing, had to be pulled up with a jerk, 
like some foundered screw. To the view from the summit 
no pen, not even Mr. Wills's, can do justice. It must be 

We followed generally the direction previously taken 
by Professor Forbes and Mr. Wills, till we reached the 
Fenetre. Out of this we looked down upon the magnifi- 
cent Glacier de Salena : then, wishing to take the shortest 
and easiest course to Orsieres, we turned back from the 
Fenetre, and, bearing N.E., crossed the Glacier d'Orny 
diagonally. On our way Bohren's keen eye detected the 
fresh track of a chamois : the animal itself we looked for 
in vain. Having reached the left or northern side of the 
glacier we skirted it, till, taking leave of the ice, we came 

upon a rugged path among rocks. Presently we arrived 
at a little shrine where some peasants were offering up 
prayers for rain. Fortunately for us they did not prevail 
with their patron saint that day. Our road became gra- 
dually smoother, and after some windings led us directly 
down to the miserable little town of Orsikes, our appointed 
halting-place for the night. 

The following day we proceeded leisurely by the Petit 
Ferrex to Courmayeur, where we spent a couple of days 
in making the ascent of the Cramont and other minor ex- 
peditions. At least Hallward and I did. Poor Fox, fired 
with ambition to ascend the almost virgin Aiguille du 
Midi, left us before reaching Courmayeur, and, taking all 
three guides with him, went to sleep at the pavilion on 
Mount Frety. The summit of the Aiguille had only been 
once reached, and that by a French count, several years ao-o. 
In the windows of the stationers or of the " general notion" 
shops at Chamounix may be seen a print entitled Esca- 
lade du dernier rocker, in which Count Ferdinand and 
his men are represented crossing an impassable gulf on 
an impossible ladder preparatory to walking up an im- 
practicable cliff". Envious rumour, indeed, whispers that 
the Count only ascended by proxy, — that he sat down on a 
ledge some way short of the summit, and deputed his 
guides to plant his drapeau on that crowning height. 
Let it, however, be understood that it is rumour says all 
this, not I. Certain it is that on the afternoon of the 
following day Fox returned in triumph, having uprooted 
the Frenchman's flagstaff", of which he brought home the 
stump in his pocket, together with a fragment of the top- 
most peak. His own flag hoisted on Cachat's baton he 
left flying, and this we afterwards had the satisfaction of 
seeing from Chamounix. 

We rose at one o'clock on Saturday morning, the 10th 






of September ; and after breakfasting with what appetite 
we might at that hour, started from Courmayem- at 2 A. M. 
Our guides estimated that we might reach Chamounix in 
thirteen or fourteen hours. As, however, none of them 
knew anything of the ground on this side of the summit 
of the Col de Miage, and Couttet had only once been over 
the remaining portion of the route, it was thought prudent 
to allow an ample margin of daylight. 

We picked our way over the rugged pavement and 
through the dark and silent streets of Courmayeur by the 
feeble light of a lantern ; and followed the same glow- 
worm spark up the valley and along the AUee Blanche 
which looked black enough for anything. A dark night 
march, whether on foot or on horseback, is always a dreary, 
weary affair; and this one proved no exception. We 
walked on between awake and asleep in Indian file, each 
man instinctively or mechanically treading in the footsteps 
of the one before him. I indistinctly remember plodding 
over a stony beach, crossing and recrossing a little stream 
which there appeared no getting rid of; the oftener one 
crossed it the oftener one had to recross it. I was be- 
ginning to ask myself whether it were not all a night- 
mare, when I was roused by the voices of the guides who 
were making night hideous with their discord. My 
first fear was that some feud had broken out between 
our Oberland friend and the men of Chamounix. The 
dispute, however, was with a short stumpy porter from 
Courmayeur, who, in consideration of the guides being 
loaded with an extra quantity of provisions, had been 
engaged as a beast of burden to carry some of the knap- 
sacks. We were approaching the huge moraine of the 
Glacier de Miage when the porter, thinking we were far 
from help, and therefore at his mercy, struck for a rise of 
100 per cent, in his wages. In vain was he charged with 

breach of faith, — in vain were Courmayeur men in general, 
and he in particular, taunted with being cowards before 
ice. The short porter was obstinate. Now, no English- 
man can brook being beaten by a foreigner. Accordingly, 
meeting his obstinacy with more obstinacy, we told him 
without waste of time that his services could be dispensed 
with ; and although he then began to propose terms of 
capitulation, these were not admitted. The knapsacks 
and haversacs were torn from him, and he was igno- 
rainiously dismissed grumbling, having had a night's work 
in carrying our things, and receiving for his reward a 
round abuse in French, English, German, Italian, and in 
various permutations and combinations of those languages. 
We had to smart, though, for our victory ; for as we could 
not add to the baggage already put upon our guides, 
we had to divide the porter's load among ourselves, and 
found by experience how much a knapsack or a havre- 
sac, even a light one, adds to the heat and burden of 
the day. 

It was now dawn, and as the light broke we all 
brisked up, and the day's work appeared to begin. All 
that had gone before, — the getting up in the dark, the 
candlelight breakfast, the night-walk, even the dispute 
with the short porter, — seemed to have belonged to some 
former day, and to have had no connection with the 

We clambered up and passed over the terminal moraine, 
— the bar at the mouth of the great ice-river, — which, 
already extending for miles, threatens to block up the 
valley. We then came upon the Glacier de Miage itself. 
Our course lay plain and even before us to the foot of the 
col, — or at least to all appearance so. If we rose as we pro- 
ceeded, — and I suppose that glaciers no more than streams 
" meander level with their founts," in spite of Mr. Mont- 

o 2 






gomery, — tbe rise was gradual and almost insensible. 
Numerous crevasses intersected our path ; but none offered 
any serious obstacle, and we advanced as rapidly and 
independently as if on an excursion to tbe Jardin. Tbe 
air was fresb and cool, and tbere was no glare from tbe 
snow ; as Mont Blanc, bigb on our rigbt, kept tbe sun off 
us for bours after be was sbining on otber mortals. We 
only paused now and tben for a few moments to peer 
down into tbe blue deptbs of a crevasse of more tban usual 
beauty, or wben tbe bunter Bobren, always all eyes for a 
cbamois alive or dead, pointed out tbe skeleton of one of 
tbese creatures embedded in tbe ice. 

On eacb side, to tbe beigbt of several thousand feet, 
sprang sbeer precipices, forming tbe banks of tbe frozen 
stream we were ascending. Tbeir boary sides were 
streaked witb torrents of ice,— tbe feeders and tributaries 
of tbe great Miage. Tbese migbty cliffs tbe glacier, in its 
awful strength, gnaws and eats away, as the Nile or the 
Mississippi wear down tbeir soft alluvial banks, and carries 
down, as its silt, no mere particles of mud and sand, but 
vast boulders and fragments of friable rock. 

Before us, to all appearance as inaccessible as any of 
the precipices on the side, though less in height, rose tbe 
col, in the shape of a crescent, with tbe boms pointed 
towards us. From its summit descended a snowy cataract, 
tbe foot of which appeared one vast chaos of crevasses, 
seracs, and ice-blocks. It was a very horse-shoe fall, save 
that its every feature —the headlong torrent— tbe watery 
abyss into which it plunges —the foaming surges and the 
flashing spray around,— all had been suddenly struck 
motionless, and, as if by the action of some Gorgon's 
bead, turned into a solid mass. No wonder De Saussure, 
looking up at it from some distance, pronounced this to be 
an impassable barrier. Far again above col and cliff 

towered up into the cold clear atmosphere, witb sharply- 
cut outline, many a snow-clad peak, and high above all 
the calotte, crowning Mont Blanc. Looking round upon 
the walls of rock and ice that encompassed us, one was 
reminded of Sindbad in the valley of diamonds, and 
thought nothing save a rokh could extricate one from 
this depth. I do not think I ever saw a scene more wild, 
more desolate, more impressive. No life, no sound, 
no motion, not even a breath of air stirred. It was a 
realm — 

♦* Where matter dared not vegetate nor live, 
But ceaseless frost round the vast solitude 
Bound its broad zone of silence." 

Yet stay ; something has just moved, for bigb up from tbe 
cliffs on our left proceeds a gentle rattling sound. 
Bobren declared it must be a cbamois, whose cautious 
tread had not prevented his attracting attention by setting 
some loose stones rolling. We scanned the rocks in vain 
for cbamois, but as we looked up we saw the summits of 
the hills on the west edged with brilliant light. The sim 
has just reached them, and, melting the ice in their top- 
most couloirs, set free the stones which the band of frost 
bad hitherto held fast, but which now ran merrily rolling 
and bounding down their grooved sides. This was a bint 
to us that we had better hasten on and accomplish 
as much of our ascent as we could before tbe batteries of 
the couloirs should open fire in earnest. Still it was 
absolutely necessary to breakfast. We were now nearing 
the foot of the col, and a large flat stone resting on the 
ice, of convenient beigbt and dimensions, offered itself in 
the double capacity at once of seat and of table. Half an 
hour's halt was therefore called. 

It was now 6.30 A. M. ; knapsacks were unstra|>ped and 
yielded up their stores of cold beef, cold fowls, bard boiled 





eggs, German sausage, and bread, besides sundry bottles 
of red wine. Not thin sour vinegar, such as that by the aid 
of which Hannibal severed rocks and burst through the 
Alps, but canonised beverages, — St. Jean and St. George, — 
rivals in body and in spirit. No better provision can be 
carried on these expeditions than the sausage, which, if we 
had it in England, we should, for want of a better name, 
I suppose, call German. It is food compact, portable, 
pleasant withal, and stands by one on a long day better 
than anything I know. It involves no trouble nor loss of 
time in carving. With any knife you can in a moment 
lop off a foot or a yard according to your appetite. Its 
only fault, perhaps, is that it somewhat provokes thirst. 

Punctually at the expiration of the prescribed half-hour 
we lighted cigars and set off. During intervals at break- 
fast the barricade we had to surmount was examined 
through a glass, and the most promising line decided on. 
Fox pronounced that we should reach the top at 9 a.m. ; 
the guides more prudently said 10 A.M. We now en- 
countered a rapidly ascending slope in some parts at the 
inclination of half a right angle. Our course was, more- 
over, rendered intricate by numberless crevasses, around, 
amonor, and across which we had to work. At one of these 
a serious accident was near befalling one of the party. 

Fox was leading the way armed with his hatchet ; im- 
mediately on his right was an upward slope of ice, so steep 
that I have seen many a wall further removed from the 
perpendicular. Presently he found his path intercepted 
by a yawning crevasse, fathomless as ocean. There was 
no apparent way of circumventing this, and Fox proceeded 
steadily, cutting steps in the icy slope, which here, receding 
from the chasm, became less inclined. He had advanced 
some distance over the gulf, and I was already standing on 
the first steps he had made, when suddenly I saw his feet 

go out as if they had been struck away from under him ; 
he slithered down the polished surface of the gulley, like 
a tree down a timber shoot, and disappeared in the jaws of 
the crevasse. A thrill ran through me as I saw him go ; 
but in another instant I was relieved, when, craning down 
as well as I could, I caught sight of his hat and an arm, 
stationary, at a depth of not more than twelve or fifteen 
feet. Providentially he had lighted astride of a projecting 
piece of ice, which brought him up, and by instantly striking 
the pick of his axe into the wall of the crevasse steadied 
himself in that position : the guides, cautiously approach- 
ing the edge, threw him a rope, and he was drawn up none 
the worse for his slip. After this warning, however, we 
took further precautions. Bohren, round whose short 
person so many fathoms of rope were coiled that he looked 
lik^ a walking capstan, was unwound, and we were put 
into harness, with Cachat as leader. The ascent became 
steeper and steeper, and the axe was in constant request. 
The sun, too, was now high, and the couloirs above kept 
up a frequent though desultory fire of stones; but the 
crevasses, lying transversely before us, did good service by 
swallowing up these missiles before they could reach us. 
Couloirs, I should explain for the benefit of the uninitiated, 
are furrows or channels lined with ice or frozen snow, 
running down the sides or slopes of mountains, and along 
which any object, once started, shoots with incredible force 
and velocity. After a while, the ice becoming impracti- 
* cable, it was judged best to bear to the left and get on to 
the rocks. This was accomplished with some difficulty, 
and now came a scramble almost straight up, by the aid of 
hands, knees, and feet, — ^now tugging each other up with 
rope ends, — now hoisting a friend on high with the butt end 
of an alpenstock, or drawing one's self up by the pick of 
an axe. The crags were composed of thin vertical layers. 



fissile and crumbling, bearing out De Saussure's description, 
— ^^ des assemblages de feuillets pyramidaux extreme^ 
ment aigus : " the projecting layers afforded the hold for 
the foot or the grasp for the hand, which enabled one to 
clamber up ; but the sharp edges cut the glove with which 
one seized them to shreds, or the fragment on which one 
rested for a spring upwards came treacherously off in one's 
hand or failed under one's foot. The col was quite un- 
known to the guides ; and consequently here on the rocks, 
as before on the ice, we were frequently brought up by an 
impracticable place, and retracing our steps, were now and 
then compelled even to turn off the arete and hew our 
way for a while up or across a couloir. 

Nine o'clock had come and gone, ten o'clock was long 
past, and the summit was still far off. The sun was hot, 
rock and snow glaring ; and the knapsacks that horrible 
Courmayeur porter had bequeathed to us had become 
woefully cumbersome. We were feeling that raging thirst 
for inspiring which the High Alps can compete with the 
deserts of Mesopotamia. All the oranges, all the apples, 
were gone long ago ; snow in the mouth brought no relief ; 
we must have some wine, we said to Cachat, as we paused 
with him to take breath at the foot of a vertical wall of 
rock, leaving Bohren and Couttet to go ahead and look out 
for a road. Cachat produced the last bottle from his store, 
which I put to my mouth, fondly expecting a good draught 
of St. Jean. It was strong luscious Muscat, one bottle of 
which our host had insisted on our taking, tepid with the 
heat of the sim and with being churned in a havresac : for 
all that, we drank it down like so much water, but it af- 
forded little relief to one's thirst. I looked at the ridge 
far above me, and bethought me of the bitter wish ex- 
pressed shortly before concerning Mont Blanc by a gentle- 
man toiling up it and in the agony of sinking into deep 



snow at every step, — " You infernal mountain, I should like 
to have you rolled out and sown over with potatoes ! " A 
yell from Peter some fifty feet above, admonishing us to 
take the rock to the left, put an end to reflections. 

At length, after more struggling and clambering rock 
work, we foimd ourselves really near the top of the ridge ; 
the seracs and precipices of ice that we had avoided by 
taking to the crags, lay below us, and immediately to our 
right stretched a small inclined plateau, covered with snow, 
leading to the summit. Of this plateau and its crevasses 
we knew nothing ; but it looked tempting, so we tied our- 
selves all together, like camels in a string, and with some 
difficulty got on to it. Crevasses were not wanting, but 
we were fortunate in hitting off bridges under the snow ; 
in one instance, if not more, they let the hindermost of 
the party through, but the rope made all safe ; the snow 
was in fair condition, and in twenty minutes from leaving 
the rocks the height was won. We looked at our watches ; 
it was just twelve o'clock. 

The ridge on which we stood was about the width of an 
ordinary footpath. For all one could see, it went down 
sheer and perpendicular on the north side. But for this 
isthmus the range of Mont Blanc would here be completely 
broken through. To those who have seen the Devil's 
Dyke, near Brighton, I may perhaps convey some idea of 
the form of the deep channel scooped out by the southern 
glacier and closed by the precipitous col at its head, when 
I say that it resembles, on a gigantic scale, the ravine 
which so nearly divides the South Downs. The fiend, so 
runs the legend, had undertaken to cut through the chain 
of hills, and let in the sea to flood the Weald of Sussex ; 
but seeing an old woman's lantern, and mistaking it for 
the rising sun, he became alarmed, and, hastily abandoning 
his task, left unremoved the escarped bank, which, extend- 



m<T across his unfinished trench, still maintains the conti- 
nuity of the Downs, and thus preserves from a watery grave 
the peasantry of the plain. 

The view which burst upon us as we gained the summit 
was more extensive, but less wild, than that behind. At 
our feet lay the northern Grlacier de Miage, bounded on 
each side, like its southern namesake, by precipitous faces 
of rock, scored by avalanches and torrents, but terminating 
in green slopes and a gi'assy valley beyond. In the blue 
distance lay the Jura mountains, and, I believe, the Lake 
of Geneva. The col itself forms a causeway connecting 
the Aiguille de Miage and other heights on the west with 
the Aiguille de Bionnassay and the peaks adjoining Mont 
Blanc on the east. From the angle formed by the junc- 
tion of the col with the rocky slopes leading up to these 
last poured down a glacier, the effect of which we dis- 
covered later in the day. From the opposite angle made 
by the col with the Aiguille de Miage, avalanches came 
roaring and rushing down, apparently with the undeviating 
regularity of excursion trains, at intervals of a quarter of 
an hour or twenty minutes. Looking back to the south 
we could see nothing but the long glacier we had walked 
over, scored transversely with crevasses, streaked longitu- 
dinally with moraines, and the crags that hemmed it in on 
every side. Seen in the early morning, as we stood far 
below them, the snow-capped summits of Mont Blanc and 
of his rivals affected one with a chilling sense of gloom. 
There was something so cold, so lifeless about them ; they 
seemed like death's heads placed aloft in a sphere above 
human feelings, interests, and passions. Now they inspired 
no idea of sadness,— they glowed warmly in the brilliant 
light that suffused them ; the distance between them and 
us was reduced ; they seemed no longer so far removed 
from earthly ties and sympathies; and one felt that if one 


did not admire them less, one loved them more, and hoped 
for a still closer friendship. All homage, however, to the 
monarch who is seen from here, as everywhere, throned 
high above the rest,— the very emblem of majesty and re- 
pose. Mr. Ruskin has an expression to the effect that moun- 
tains, besides the material duties of forming reservoirs 
of water and purifying the atmosphere, have the higher 
mission of elevating and ennobling the human mind. 
Mr. Buckle, on the contrary, tells us that mountains crush 
and degrade the intellect of man, and quotes in confirma- 
tion of his assertion a passage from Alison, the purport of 
which is, that mountain scenery has made the Tyrolese 
ignorant and superstitious. Whether our party were more 
ennobled or degraded by the scenes around us I will not 
undertake to say. Neither effect, however, was produced 
to such a degree as to put out of sight the matter-of-fact 
view of the case,— that the day was far spent, that a long 
steep descent was before us, and that, as nothing insures a 
steady head so well as a full stomach, it was advisable to 
dine without delay. Accordingly half an hour was devoted 
to recruiting our forces. At 12.40 time was called ; we 
left our names in a bottle deposited on the top and girded 
up our loins. The cellar being now quite exhausted, and 
the larder almost so, the original load was thus materially 
reduced, and the guides were able to relieve us of our 
burdens. Baguette proceeded along the edge of the col 
in the direction of Mont Blanc, craning down and endea- 
vouring to hit off the arete by which he had ascended and 
descended with Mr. Coleman the year before. There was 
some difficulty in finding the direction, and we began to 
think after all we should have to strike out a line for our- 
selves. Not that it seemed much to signify where one 
went, for to all appearance one might have dropped a 
plummet at any point. Just now, however, Couttet 



exclaimed, " Here it is ! " and plunged downwards. The 
rest followed. 

The descent was almost entirely rock-work, by crags of 
the same character as those we had struggled up on the 
other side, with an occasional patch of ice or snow to give 
variety and relief. The first portion was decidedly fitter 
for quadrumana to climb than for bipeds to walk down. 
Great and not unreasonable were the exhortations ad- 
dressed to the rear ranks by those in front not to send 
the loose crumbling masses of stone rolling on their heads. 
Towards the bottom there was more slope, the foothold 
improved, and one could dispense with the aid of hands 
and rely on one's feet and one's alpenstock. We looked 
in vain for chamois all day, though both Miages are their 
favourite haunts; and Couttet had in 1858 seen a herd of 
thirty or forty on the crags overhanging the northern 
glacier. Bohren was obliged to console himself by occa- 
sionally detaching some huge fragment of rock and send- 
ing it bounding down the dizzy steep till it was dashed to 
atoms on the glacier below, or swallowed up in one of its 
gaping chasms. Such a proceeding, particularly at critical 
points, is not encouraging ; but Peter may have intended 
to convey a warning, indicating, more delicately than 
words could do, to his Herrschaften how they would go 
and where they would go if they did happen to make a 
mistake. When we reached the bottom we found that 
the glacier before mentioned as coming down from the 
east end of the ridge above, created by its junction with 
the main stream, a sort of storm in the ice, which resulted 
in many large crevasses, more especially in one which 
effectually barred our passage on to the level plain before 
us. Eastward the prospect was hopeless : we, therefore, 
skirted the crevasse for some way, going westward, till we 
found ourselves brought up by a wide couloir, which, as 



the occasional discharge of a stone showed, was not alto- 
gether inactive. After a little deliberation it was decided 
that it must be crossed, though the operation was of the 
kind our guides most objected to; and justly so, for 
against stones shooting down a groove of ice with some- 
thing of the force of a rifle ball, presence of mind, skill, 
and activity avail but little. Especially awkward is it 
for the man who has to make the way, and stand fire 
while cutting the steps. This duty Cachat took upon 
himself; nor was he long about it: his axe was soon 
ringing upon the ice, and scattering a shower of gems at 
every blow ; till, by an incredibly small number of well- 
directed strokes, a succession of ledges was made, by aid 
of which we hurried across. As we passed over one of 
the party naively remarked that after all a couloir was the 
same as a brook, with this difference, that in a brook the 
water rolls over the stones, and in a couloir the stones roll 
over the water. Still the crevasse baffled us; it was 
either too wide to jump, or, if it seemed to come up to 
the rocks, a few soundings taken with a pole, so far as a 
pole could reach, proved there was no bridge, or none that 
would bear. The adventurous Bohren was out of all 
patience ; he had, with magnanimous self-denial through- 
out the day, waived all pretensions to the post of honour 
and of danger in favour of the Chamounix men, on whose 
manor he was to a certain extent a trespasser. Muttering 
German reflections, rather disparaging to the courage of all 
but Oberland guides, he now rushed to the front, and looked 
with scrutinising eye at some snow that approached the 
rocks. It was too far below to be probed with an alpen- 
stock ; and, notwithstanding remonstrances from guides and 
travellers, he jumped upon it. He rolled over in the soft 
snow ; but there was a firm substratum ; and the problem 
of getting on to the glacier was solved. 



This northern was the counterpart of the southern 
Miage, though less extensive. We crossed it diagonally, 
bearing towards its eastern side. Then came an enormous 
moraine that would not have disgraced the grinding and 
carrying powers of the larger glacier ; and eventually we 
landed on a succession of grassy terraces covered with 
bilberries. After so many hours of rock and ice we 
thought walking on grass would be no exertion. These 
slopes proved, however, very steep and slippery, to a 
degree that appears peculiar to Alpine grass. Altogether 
this was the most wearisome part of the day. We missed 
our way, too, by following the bed of a tiny rivulet which 
led us astray. After the moist green hills and banks 
came a stony tract like the sea-beach, and having crossed 
this we arrived about 5 p.m. at some chalets, called the 
Chalets de Miage. Lying down on the fresh sod we 
drank some milk and finished whatever remains of food 
were to be found in the havresacs. Turning back towards 
the col from a distance it looked simply perpendicular, 
and showed no signs of being. anywhere practicable : the 
valley seemed completely walled up by it. At the 
expiration of twenty minutes the party jumped up quite 
refreshed, and we set off for Chamounix, reckoned to be 
about fifteen English miles distant. In England the walk 
we had still before us would be considered a good day's 
exercise. But in the Alpine world innate or acquired 
ideas of time and space are totally revolutionised. 

The path for some time wound up and round the side 
of a lofty hill. To ascend, after so many hours of inces- 
sant descending, was a pleasing change. It felt actually 
more refreshing and invigorating to the muscles than the 
repose by the chalets. We pushed briskly on over the 
first hill down into a deep valley over the Col de Voza, 
and thus onward over hill and dale. Walking over such 



ground seemed to require no effort, and with the cool of 
the evening every vestige of fatigue vanished. Then 
came the summit of the hills forming the southern boun- 
dary of the valley of the Arve. In tearing spirits, and 
with many exhortations to Peter Bohren to take care of 
himself on such dangerous ground, we raced down the 
slopes and terraces, coming down with a run into the 
dusty road a little below Les Ouches. At this village 
some of the party halted for tea. The rest kept straight 
on, and reached Chamounix a few minutes before nine; 
the second division came in about twenty minutes later. 
We had therefore taken, including halts, nineteen hours 
to accomplish our journey. 

A hot bath, a glass of Vermuth, a supper which a 
Sybarite might have envied, but never could have equally 
appreciated, in the company of our trusty guides, fitly 
concluded one of the most enjoyable days of a health-trip 
to the glaciers. 

It is impossible satisfactorily to take leave of the Col 
de Miage without alluding to the unfortunate accident, 
of which, since our passage, it has been the scene. 

We little thought that two years later, a young traveller 
would be disastrously separated from his friends on that 
identical Col, whence we had so thoroughly enjoyed the 
wondrous scenery. We dreamed not that it would be his 
lot to be dashed from top to bottom of one of those fearful 
couloirs of ice, down which we had gazed with "'bated 

A description of this accident will doubtless be accept- 
able to all interested in Alpine adventure, and no one is 
cnore capable of accurately narrating the facts than the 
Rev. Charles Hudson, who was a kind and constant atten- 
dant upon the sufferer. 




Br THE Rev. Charles Hudson, M.A. 

On the 10th of July, 1861, we set out from Chamounix, 
with the object of ascending the Col de Miage, to try if 
there were a passage at the back of the Aiguille de 
Bionassay by which Mont Blanc could be ascended. Our 
party consisted of the Rev. Leslie Stephen, Messrs. 
Tuckett, Frank Mather, John Birkbeck, and myself. 
For the information of those who read this account, I 
may mention that John Birkbeck formed one of this 
party in compliance with his father's distinct wish. To 
my inquiry as to what mountains he should attempt, the 
reply was, "Mont Blanc, and other high mountains, if 
you think him fit for the fatigue." After trying him in 
several smaller expeditions, I was quite satisfied of his 
powers as regards strength, good head, and sure foot. 

On the afternoon of the lOth of July we set out from 
Contamines, the second stage of our expedition, and pro- 
gressed without adventure till our bivouac. On the 
morning of the 11th, at 3.30, we left the friendly rock 
on, or near which we had passed the night; and at 
seven o'clock we had reached the summit of the Col de 
Miage. Here we sat down on a smooth hard plain of 
snow, and had our second breakfast. Shortlv afterwards 
Birkbeck had occasion to leave us for a few minutes, 
though his departure was not remarked at the time. 
When we discovered his absence, Melchior followed his 

footsteps, and I went after him, and, to our dismay, we 
saw the tracks led to the edge of the ice-slope, and 
then suddenly stopped. The conclusion was patent at a 
glance. I was fastening two ropes together, and Melchior 
had already bound one end round his chest, with a view 
to approach, or even descend a portion of the slope, for 
a better view, when some of the party descried Birkbeck 
a long way below us. He had fallen an immense distance. 

It has been asked how the different guides conducted 
themselves, and which of the travellers went to Birkbeck ? 
I shall consequently mention one or two facts which 
otherwise might have been passed over in silence. The 
Grerman guides gave vent to frequent bursts of tears, 
not only at the moment when we discovered our friend's 
terrible fall, but from time to time during the day. 
The two guides from the neighbourhood of St. Oervais 
gave no outward manifestation of feeling, though their 
state was sufl&ciently indicated by their reply to me, 
when I made some suggestion before leaving the Col, 
*^ Nous sommes des incapablesJ'^ Of the reality of this 
assertion they gave practical proof during the descent, 
for they went so slowly that Melchior, Tuckett, and I, 
who were in the same cord with them, were frequently 
obliged to stop until they got down some of the more 
difficult rocks. My first impulse led me to \N-ish that 
Melchior and I should go down to Birkbeck as fast as 
possible, and leave the rest to follow with the ropes; 
but on proposing this plan, some of the party objected, 
and, accordingly, we continued the descent as before. 
For a considerable time Birkbeck shouted to us, not 
knowing whether we could see his position. His course 
had been arrested at a considerable distance abov-e the 
bottom of the slope, by what means we kniaw not; and 
just below him stretched a snow-covered crevassie,* across 

VOL. I. y 





which he must pass, if he went further. We shouted 
to him to remain where he was, but no distinguishable 
sounds reached him; and to our dismay, we presently 
saw him gradually moving downwards, — then he stopped, 

ac^ain he moved forwards, and again — he was on the 

brink of the crevasse ; but we could do nothing for him. 
At length he slid down upon the slope of snow which 
bridged the abyss. I looked anxiously to see if it would 
support his weight, and, to my relief, a small black speck 
continued visible. This removed my immediate cause of 
apprehension, and after a time he moved clear of this 
frail support down to the point where we afterwards 
joined him. Bennen was first in the line; and after we 
had descended some distance, he untied himself, and went 
down to Birkbeck. It was 9.30 when he reached him. 
He told us he was becoming faint, and suffering from 
cold. On hearing this, Melchior and I determined to 
delay no longer; and, accordingly, unroped, and trotted 
down to the point where we could descend from the rocks 
to the slope upon which he was lying. Arrived at the 
place, I sat on the snow, and let Birkbeck lean against 
me, whilst I asked him if he felt any internal injury, 
or if his ribs pained him. His manner of answering 
gave me strong grounds for hoping that there was little 
to fear on that score. 

The next thing was to get him down as fast as possible, 
and the sledge suggested itself as the most feasible plan. 
Only the day before, at Contamines, I had had the boards 
made for it, and without them the ruoners (which, tied 
too-ether, served me as an alpenstock) would have been 
useless. Two or three attempts were made before I could 
get the screws to fit the holes in the boards and runners, 
and poor Melchior, who was watching me, began to show 
signs of despair. At length, the operation was completed. 










P 2 


and the sledge was ready. We spread a plaid, coats, and 
flannel shirts over the boards, then laid Birkbeck at full 
length on them, and covered him as well as we could; 
over his face we laid a veil, and above this, at his request, 
a white handkerchief. 

Now came the ^'tug of war," for the snow was much 
softened by the sun, the slope was steep, and there were 
several crevasses ahead; added to this, there was difficulty 
in getting good hold of the sledge, and, every five or 
six steps, one or other of the bearers plunged so deeply 
in the snow that we were obliged to halt. Birkbeck was 
all the while shivering so much that the sledge was 
sensibly shaken, and all the covering we could give him 
was but of little use. 

From hints previously given me by a medical friend 
in London, I was well aware of the great danger Birkbeck 
was in, owing to the vast amount of skin which was 
destroyed, and I felt that every quarter of an hour saved 
was of very great importance ; still the frequent delays 
could not be avoided. If there were only three bearers 
ready, I made a fourth ; if there were four at hand, I 
relinquished the post, and carried their haches, &c. 

For a time we staggered along across the slope, fearing 
to descend, lest we should be involved in the numerous 
crevasses which lay below us. Once clear of this difficulty, 
we steered downwards to the point where our friends 
had gone to wait for us, as we had begged them not to 
follow us to Birkbeck. 

The party was now re-united, and the travellers lent 
more of their garments, as a covering for Birkbeck. Mr. 
Tuckett produced some effervescing powders, as soon as 
we reached water, which were most acceptable to Birkbeck 

and others. 

When the slopes of snow were passed, we sent MoUard 



(one of our local guides) forward, to obtain more bearers, 
and to get a proper stretcher. In half an hour more 
we had dragged Birkbeck over a long horizontal plain 
of snow, and shortly afterwards we were clear of the 
glacier. At this point, Stephen kindly offered to go down 
to the valley, and cross the Col de Vosa to Chamounix, 
in search of an English doctor. Tuckett wrote out, and 
took a telegram for Mr. Downton (English chaplain at 
Greneva), begging him to come to St. Grervais at once, 
with the best surgeon tiie could obtain. He also promised 
to see the doctor of the baths, and have him in attendance 
on our arrival in the valley, together with a carriage, to 
convey Birkbeck from Bionay to St. Gervais. 

We next had to attack the moraine, very steep at 
this point; and Melchior was obliged to go forward, 
and open steps, to avoid slipping, as we went over it 
with our burden. A new mode of carrying was adopted, 
as the former was impracticable on the steep, shifting 
moraine. Melchior put his shoulders under the front 
part of the sledge, and, bending down his head, walked 
forward in this position, whilst one or two others carried 
behind. Fortunately, the sufferer did not seem to care 
much whether his head or his heels were the higher. 
I say fortunately, for it was impossible to keep his head 
always on a level with, or higher than his body. Many 
were the halts on this trying moraine; but at last it 
was behind us, and delighted we were when we soon 
afterwards reached grass-slopes. 

Mather had shortly before this gone forward to the 
chalets of Miage to order some water to be heated, and 
to send forward any men he could meet with. Hoste 
(one of the guides from this neighbourhood) had gone 
back for some of the baggage that we had been obliged 
to leave behind, and thus I and the faithful three — 




Melchior, Bennen, and PerreD, — were alone with my poor 
friend. Bound my neck hung two wine gourds, lelt by 
my provident friend Tuckett, and from time to time I 
gave some of their contents to the three bearers, as it 
seemed to keep them in heart and refresh them. Though 
their exertions were very great I did not allow them 
long rests, so anxious was I to get Birkbeck to warmth, 
and bed, and rest. After they had sat two or three 
minutes on the grass I used to catch Melchior's eye, 
and show by a sign that we ought to be off again. 
Melchior always, at once and most cheerfully, responded 
to this appeal, and when he rose the other two did the 
same. I preferred thus communicating with Melchior, 
because we knew one another well, and I was not afraid 
of his misunderstanding my motives, though I knew 
their exertions fairly entitled them to longer halts. The 
footinsf was now secure and that is all that could be said 
in favour of this part of the descent, for frequently we 
came to abrupt slopes of rock, which to an ordinary 
walker would have appeared difficult, even without any- 
thing to carry. We had so secured Birkbeck, with 
ropes and straps, that he could not slip off the sledge, 
otherwise he would on these occasions at once have 
parted company with his stretcher, and rolled down the 
rocks. The chalets of Miage lie on a perfectly hori- 
zontal plain, from which springs that spur of the moun- 
tain which we were now descending. Half an hour 
before we reached this plain Mollard reappeared. He 
had been down to " La Vilette," nearly as far as Bionay, 
for a stretcher and a staff of porters. The last quarter 
of an hour before gaining the plain of Miage was some- 
what trying; on most sides we were hemmed in by 
precipitous rocks, and the best line of march lay down 
the sides, and sometimes along the bed of a rushing 



mountain torrent, where we had to step from rock to rock, 
and sometimes lower Birkbeck four or five feet at a time. 

As we had now a stronger force of bearers we got ou 
with less trouble and fewer halts, merely stopping to 
give our poor friend a cup of water occasionally. After 
the plain was reached the chief difficulties were over- 
.come. An hour later we got to the chalets, where 
Mather had prepared the hot water, and we now made 
an attempt to place Birkbeck more comfortably. The 
stretcher was turned upside down (that the legs might 
help to keep him in his place), a mattress of straw and 
dry blankets was hastily prepared. Birkbeck was lifted off' 
the sledge and laid on the grass. The sledge was bound 
with ropes to the stretcher, across which a piece of 
board was fixed, projecting beyond the foot of the sledge 
so as to leave at least six feet clear for the mattress 
which was now placed upon it; two or three blankets 
were then laid over the mattress, and the sufferer was 
placed on his new couch. He had been wrapped up in 
a plaid of Stephen's, and in this I let him remain rather 
than have to lay bare his terrible wounds for the sake 
of putting him between the clean sheets which Mollard's 
wife had thoughtfully prepared. 

When the poor fellow was on his new bed, with a 
pillow under his head, I sent for the hot water and 
poured some cups of it over his body, thighs and legs, 
and especially on his feet, which had long been be- 
numbed. We then immediately wrapped the blankets 
about him, and put some flannel shirts and coats round 
his feet. To our great satisfaction our patient in a few 
minutes found himself quite warm, and much more 
comfortable than he had been since the accident. By 
the time all was complete it was four o'clock, and we at 
once gave the word for a fresh start. 





We had at least six or seven bearers, and as two only 
could carry at a time, owing to the narrowness of the 
mountain path, there was no more delay than the mere 
changing of hands. When the cavalcade was fairly off, 
Mather and I had some bread and milk, which were most 
acceptable after our long exertions in the sun. In ten 
minutes we were again with our friend, and did not leave 
him for more than a few minutes till we reached the main 
valley at Bionay. 

Notwithstandins: all Melchior had done he said to me 
(half an hour below the chalets), ^ I'll carry one end of 
the stretcher and then we'll walk faster.' At 6 P.^r. we 
reached Bionay, and two minutes after we had stepped 
into the road, appeared the trusty Tuckett with the 
doctor from the baths, in a carriage with a mattress all 
properly prepared. We were glad to hear Tuckett express 
great surprise that we had got down so soon, since it 
was a proof that the bearers had done well. Birkbeck 
was quickly moved to the carriage, and there deposited 
on the mattress ; the doctor and Mather occupied the two 
remaining seats inside. I mounted the box, and away we 
went to St. Grervais, which we reached at 6.30 p.m. 
Having selected the most airy room, we carried our friend 
up to bed, cut off his clothes, and the doctor made a 
thorough examination. He confirmed our previous hope 
with regard to the injuries beiog confined to the skin and 
the shock to the system. This report decided me in my 
previous intention of sending a letter instead of a telegram 
to Birkbeck's father, as an announcement of the accident. 

Dr. Pay en ordered wet cloths to be applied to all the 
wounded parts, and to be changed every half-hour. From 
what the medical friend in London had told me of the 
risk of cold applications in cases where much skin was 
destroyed, I could not help having some doubts as to the 

propriety of using this treatment for any length of time, 
particularly as the sufferer was in such a chilly, feeble 
state. Tuckett and I discussed this point when the 
doctor was gone, and our views coincided. 

Tuckett had offered to divide the night with me and 
proposed taking the first part, promising to call me at 
1 A.M. ; but he good-naturedly let me sleep on, and it was 
not till four that I awoke, and at once went to the patient's 
room. Tuckett told me he had always allowed three 
quarters, sometimes an hour to elapse before changing the 
cloths. As Birkbeck was very cold, we used warm water 
instead of cold, in which to dip the cloths, and we also 
put blankets and hot bottles to his feet. 

It was 6 A.M. on Friday 12th, when Mr. Downton and 
Dr. Metcalfe arrived. The latter at once insisted on the 
importance of devoting our first thoughts and care to restor- 
ing the vital energy. The pulse was almost, if not quite, 
imperceptible, and the danger was lest the patient should 
not rally from the stupor into which he had sunk. We at 
once procured several hot blankets and sheets, arranged 
them on a dry mattress, and transferred Birkbeck to them ; 
we put fresh hot bottles to his feet, and covered him with 
more hot blankets. By Dr. Metcalfe's direction we gave 
him brandy and milk every half hour. Mather relieved 
guard as head nurse at this time, and most ably did he 
carry out the doctor's wishes. Dr. Metcalfe told me he 
attributed the restoration of his patient in very great mea- 
sure to the promptness and regularity with which his direc- 
tions were attended to, and he specially named Mather's 
care and skill in administering the stimulants. In four 
hours there was a marked improvement in tone generally, 
and the pulse was perceptible, and before night Dr. Met- 
calfe was hopeful about his patient's final recovery. He was 
of opinion that the cold water was an excellent application 




for the first few hours, to allay fever and inflammation ; but 
it required very close watching that it might be stopped at 
the proper moment. In his opinion the cold treatment 
had been carried on too long. 

The following morning Birkbeck was apparently out of 
danger, and day by day, increased in strength. We 
persevered in applying wet lint covered with oiled silk, 
which was daily changed. In about a fortnight all the 
dead skin (cutis) came off piece by piece, and the wounds 
throughout looked remarkably healthy, and were healing 
iis well as we could have expected.* The shock to the 
system and nerves will take most time for complete re- 

I left St. Gervais on the 3rd of August, my proper leave 
of absence being at an end, and took wing believing that 
my services were no longer needed as they were so ably 
fulfilled by Mr. George Stansfeld and Joseph, the nurse. 
The gentler part of the nursing I had long surrendered to 
Mrs. Birkbeck and Miss Stansfeld (who had gone to Swit- 
zerland on hearing of the accident). 

Thouo-h I have written so much I seem to have a great 
deal more to tell ; and first, — let me return to the point 
where we found Birkbeck on the snow and describe his 
appearance. His legs, thighs, and the lower part of his 
body were quite naked with his trousers down about his 
feet. By his passage over the snow, the skin was removed 
from the outside of the legs and thighs, the knees, the 
whole of the lower part of the back and part of the ribs 
together with some from the nose and forehead. He had not 
lost much blood, but he presented a most ghastly spectacle 
of bloody raw flesh. This, added to his great prostration 

* This account was written shortly after the accident, and I regret to say 
the hope of our friend's speedy restoration was soon interrupted by less 
favourable symptoms, and he is still not quite recovered. 



and our consciousness of the distance and diflSculties which 
separated him from any bed, rendered the sight most try- 
ino". He never lost consciousness. He afterwards de- 
scribed his descent as one of extreme rapidity, too fast to 
allow of his realising the sentiment of fear, but not suffi- 
ciently so to deprive him of thought. Sometimes he de- 
scended feet first, sometimes head first, then he went side- 
ways, and once or twice he had the sensation of shooting 
through the air. 

The slope where he first lost his footing was gentle, and 
he tried to stop himself with his fingers and nails ; but the 
snow was too hard. He had no fear during the descent, 
owing to the extreme rapidity ; but when he came to a 
halt on the snow, and was ignorant as to whether we saw, 
or could reach him, he experienced deep anguish of mind 
in the prospect of a lingering death. Happily, however, 
the true Christian principles in which he had been brought 
up, led him to cast himself upon the protection of that 
merciful Being who alone could help him. His prayers 
were heard, and immediately answered by the removal of 
his fears ; and he forthwith, in their place, experienced a 
strong and unchanging conviction that his friends would 
reach him, and rescue him from his perilous position. 

Dr. Metcalfe's report of the case : 

* When first I saw Mr. Birkbeck, his position on the bed was 
that of extreme prostration of the nervous system. He was lying 
on his back with the arms and legs extended downwards, and 
showing from their positions an extreme want of nervous power. 
The lace was much swollen, so as to prevent any expression ; the 
forehead having the appearance of a bladder partly filled with 
water, and, at the same time, much discoloured by the scratches 
and the effects of the sun. The nose, also swollen, was on the 
right side blackened, as if a piece of black leather had been 
gummed on one side of it, and spread over the cheek in a trian- 
gular form of about one inch wide by two long. This patch was 
skin, killed by friction in the fall. The eyes were uninjured j 







only showing the dilatation of pupil common to a great nervous 
shock. The eyelids were swollen, nearly closed and red. Each 
hand was much swelled and bruised on both sides, the back of 
each discoloured, and patches of skin destroyed by friction, whilst 
the ends of the fingers were denuded and worn down by their 
contact with the hard snow. To those accustomed to the acci-^ 
dents from machinery called in Manchester and Leeds '' brush 
bums " (where the friction of a strap or brush in quick motion 
passing over a part without removing the flesh destroys its 
vitality), the resemblance of the present case would be striking. 
The lower jaw was painful when moved, as if it had received a 
wrench in the fall, though at the same time protected from abra- 
sion by the collar of his coat. The mind appeared quite right in 
all points, except the semi-dulness consequent on a great shock, 
which here was both bodily and mental ; the injury being by 
comparison gradually received, not instantaneous. The voice, 
though feeble and used with some effort, evinced no wandering 
nor loss of power ; whilst the intonation might be accounted for 
by the swoUen lips and half-closed mouth. On my first seeing 
him the pulse was barely perceptible, the extremities were cold, 
as was also the rest of the body, and the general impression 
produced was that power of reaction was lost, or as nearly so as 
possible. No bones were injured, no vital organ affected, and 
the danger to be feared arose from the great extent of surface in- 
jured. °The marks began on one side, high up on the chest, as 
if the arm had been thrown up and the clothes turned over the 
head ; then, lower were transverse scratches, running round the 
sides, again diagonal ones, in some parts the skin not distinctly 
scratched but torn and bruised. The back, both from the lower 
part on both sides and some distance upwards, was also torn and 
bruised. The legs, on the outside, were cut in every direction 
according to the momentary position as he fell down ; there was 
a wrench on the right thigh, causing some swelling at first on the 
inside. The most severe local injuries were on the knees, and 
outside the calves en the legs, where the true skin was nearly 
destroyed. Before I saw Mr. Birkbeck the doctor on the spot 
had applied wet towels to all the wounds. The patient's friends, 
however, had most judiciously discontinued the constant change 
of them, and placed hot water to his feet and covered him with 
blankets. A decided change appeared to be needed, and I re- 
moved all the wet towels, and replaced them with hot blankets 




and sheets; giving brandy and milk every half hour. Hour 
by hour there was a gradual improvement in heat and vital 

Thus Dr. Metcalfe concludes his report. In common 
justice to him I must mention how carefully he watched 
the case so as to avail himself of any change ; he even 
proposed to sit up the first night, though he had been tra- 
velling the whole of the previous one ; but as Birkbeck 
appeared so much better before evening, I would not con- 
sent to this arrangement, and his other nurses divided the 

night between them. 

From Dr. Metcalfe's immense practice in cases of acci- 
dents he was quite at home in this, which to some might 
have been very difficult from its novelty. 

Dr. Hennen, an old friend of mine, arrived about a fort- 
night after the accident ; he kindly visited Birkbeck the 
morning after his arrival and was present when we were 
dressing him. Dr. Hennen expressed surprise that so 
much progress should have been made in the time, and he 
appeared more astonished at the prospect of Birkbeck's 
ultimate recovery than that his life should have escaped 
in the first instance, or that we should have got him down 
alive. Dr, Hennen, who was making some stay at St. 
Gervais, kindly offered his services so long as he remained. 
Birkbeck was most happily provided with a continual 
supply of both medical advisers and nurses ; when one was 
obliged to go, another at once appeared. Dr. Metcalfe 
performed the most difficult task of all, viz., raising the 
sufferer from almost fatal prostration to a state apparently 
pretty free from danger. Our work afterwards merely 
required watchfulness and delicate handling. 

Mrs. Kennedy, an English lady staying at St. Gervais, 
kindly made us two sets of coverings for the legs, thighs, 
and back, with strings attached ; and these were vastly 


1 t 

t - 







more convenient than bandages, and did not require a 
quarter of the time to adjust them. 

Madame Naville Saladin, from Oeneva, was most kind 
in various ways. Through her means we obtained a 
supply of French lint {charple), when we were entirely 
without any English; and at her request, a Genevese 
doctor (M. Brot), who was staying at St. Gervais with 
his family, good-naturedly superintended our doings in 
the interval after Dr. Metcalfe had left us until Dr. 
Hennen came. Others, both English and foreigners, 
were very obliging in offering aid. Mrs. Fane, from 
Lincolnshire, who was then staying at the baths with 
her family, at once sent her son, an Indian officer, to 
offer her services in any way. She kindly supplied us 
twice with old linen, and offered us the use of her 
man-servant ; but this latter we did not require. 

On Friday, the 2nd of August, Mollard and I went 
to a point about 100 feet below the position where we 
reached Birkbeck. My principal object was to ascertain its 
altitude, in order that, by taking the difference between 
its height and that of the Col, we might know the exact 
distance that Birkbeck fell. Tuckett and I made obser- 
vations with sympiesometer and aneroid on the Col, before 
the accident. The result of our observations is as follows : — 
The height of the Col de Miage is 11,095 feet. The 
height of the point at which Birkbeck finally came to 
a standstill is 9328 feet ; so the distance he fell is, in 
'perpendicular height, 1767 feet. 

During the intervening three weeks, vast changes had 
taken place in the glacier. The snowy coating had left 
the couloir in parts, thus exposing ice in the line of 
Birkbeck's course, as well as a rock midway in the slope, 
against which our poor friend would most likely have 
struck, had the accident happened later. 



The whole couloir was divided from side to side by 
a wall of neve, of from ten to twenty feet in height, 
over which, at a later period, he would inevitably have 
been precipitated. Huge and continuous crevasses had 
opened at the foot of the slope on which Birkbeck's 
course had been arrested, so as to cut it off from the 
plain of snow across which we had dragged him, and 
by which we had found an exit from the glacier world. 
At this second visit it would not have been practicable 
to carry the sufferer, the way we did; and the only 
alternative would have been to go over the difficult 
rocks and broad steep slopes of snow by which Mollard 
and I approached the foot of the Col. 

This is one more of that long chain of providential 
arrangements, by the combination of which we were 
enabled to save Birkbeck's life. 

(1.) The recent snow, and favourable state of the 
glacier, enabled us to take an easier and much quicker 
route, if not the only possible one for a wounded man. 

(2.) We had a singularly strong party of guides, 
without which we could not have got him down in time 
to afford any chance of his recovery. 

(3.) If we had not had real efficient men as travellers 
in the party, we should not have got the telegram sent 
to Greneva ; and a few hours' delay in the arrival of Dr. 
Metcalfe would probably have been fatal. 

(4.) The day was perfectly calm and cloudless; had 
there been wind, or absence of sun, the cold might have 
been too much for such a shaken system to bear. 

(5.) We had with us the very unusual addition of a 
sledge, without which it would have been scarcely possible 
to have carried him down. 

To whom, then, is due the praise for all these mercies ? 
Surely to Him who guides and protects us day by day. 






To Him, then, let us give all glory and thanks, as often 
a« we call to mind that wonderful chain of mercies by 
which He enabled us to rescue our friend, and thus 
averted sorrow from many hearts. 

One thing there wa^ which greatly lessened the mental 
trial to those engaged in bringing Birkbeck down to 
St Gervais, and afterwards in attending upon him; and 
that was, his perfect calmness and patience,- and of these 
I cannot speak too highly. No doubt it contributed 
greatly to his recovery. 

I hope I have at least glanced at all interesting points 
connected with this sad accident, which was really as 
unlikely to have happened as that a man, in lookmg 
out of a window, should overbalance himself, and break 
his neck. 




















VOL. I. 

» t 



By Frbderick William Jacomb. 

Routine may be exported as well as retained for home 
consumption. Even in the Alps its spirit is not extinct, 
and a philosophy, of which the sum is — 

" Fain would I climb, but that I fear to fall ; 
Then it were better not to climb at all " — 

still appears to be the influence which directs the great 
tourist tide, that, every travelling season, ebbs and flows 
between those centres of Alpine attraction, — Zermatt and 

North of the Pennine chain, by Visp and the Rhone 
Valley to Martigny, aud thence over the T^te Noire or 
Col de Balme, or, south of the chain, by the pass of St. 
Theodule to Chatillon, Aosta, and Courmayeur, and forwards 
over the Cols de la Seigne and du Bonhomme, have been 
the regulation routes to Chamounix. More enterprising 
spirits, indeed, gave a higher flavour to the tour by 
crossing direct from Courmayeur to Chamounix over the Col 
du Geant ; but, in the large majority of cases, the St. Ber- 
nard was apparently considered, even by pedestrians, the 
most exciting alternative. And so the ruts of custom 
grew deeper every year, and the stream wore a more per- 
manent channel, to keep within which was considered the 
correct thing. 

Nearly twenty years ago, however, our own distinguished 

Q 2 


countryman, Professor Forbes, accompanied by the well- 
kno>vn Swiss geologist, Professor B. Studer, had drawn 
attention to portions of the magnificent scenery lymg 
between these hackneyed tracks. The vivid description of 
his passage from the Val des Bagnes to Aosta by the Col 
de Fenetre ; from the Eringer Thai to Aosta by the Col de 
Collon, and to Zermatt by the Col d'Erin ; and, more 
recently, from du Tour to Orsieres by the Col de Salena, 
have become " household words " to many tourists. 
' Thanks principally to him, and not a little also to the 
map of M. O. Studer, the travelling public gradually 
adopted, at least, the extreme portions of the improved 
route ; and the Col d'Erin at one eud, with the Geant or 
the sllena at the other, were not unfrequently crossed by 
the more adventurous traveller. The Col de Collon yet, 
however, continued in undeserved neglect, and the vast 
remainder of the intermediate terrain was not even 

explored. . 

Within the la^t few years, however, a bolder spirit has 
animated our mountaineers, and, in the increased light 
thus thrown upon Alpine topography, the district m ques- 
tionhas largely shared. Pioneers in this great work were the 
Messrs. Mathews, by their accents of the Velan, Combm 
Mont Avril and Graffeneire, and investigation of the Val 
des Bagnes and its neighbourhood ; and Mr. Dodson, by his 
adding, in the shape of the Col du Tour, a " various read- 

ing" to the Salena. 

Still, few travellers passing from Zermatt to Chamoumx, 
or vicl versa, ever thought of including more than one of 
these first-class passes, and three-fourths of the hue of 
country, comprising many virgin peaks and glaciers, 
remained comparatively unknown. 

During the seasons of 1860 and 1861, however, an 
entirely new route has been opened out, not only connect- 



ing the two centres in almost a direct line, but offering 
the additional advantage of exploring some of the most 
noble glaciers and snow-fields to be met with in the Alps. 
On referring to the map, it will be observed that this 
route consists of four new passes, each occupying a day, 
and of an intermediate link, for which part of a day is 
sufficient, if it be not added to either the first or second 


The first is from Chamoimix, by Mr. Winkworth's new 
Col d'Argentiere, ascending by the glacier of that name from 
the Col de Balme, and thence descending upon Orsieres or 
St. Pierre. The second day is from St. Pierre to 
Chermontane up the Glacier du Sonadon, passing close 
under the south end of the Graffeneire, crossing the new 
Col du Sonadon, and down the Glacier du Mont Durand. 
The third day is from Chermontane to Prerayen by the 
Glacier of Chermontane and Mr. Tuckett's new Col de la 
Reusse de I'Arolla, with the alternative of reaching the 
Chalet d^Otemma, from the same starting-point, by the 
Glacier de Piece and Messrs Buxton and Cowell's new Col 
de Chermontane. The fourth and last day is, either from 
the Chalet d'Otemma past the Dent des Bouquetins, to 
the Col de la Valpelline, considered by Messrs. Buxton 
and Cowell as practicable; or else, from Prerayen, at 
the head of the Valpelline, by the new Col of that name 
to Zermatt, passing along the Zardezan glacier, by the 
south of the Tete Blanche, and thence down the Zmutt. 
Thus the new " High Level " route is complete, and a 
cjrand course of inexhaustible interest, traversing, as it does, 
almost throughout its entire length, a series of the most 
magnificent glaciers and snow-fields. 

The intermediate link referred to is in passing from the 
chalet of La Neuva in the Val de Ferret to Orsieres or St. 
Pierre, inasmuch as crossing from Chamounix to La 






Neuva will generally be found to give the traveller a suffi- 
ciently ample day's work, without adding to it a walk to St. 
Pierre or Orsieres. If, however, instead of going round by 
Orsieres, a passage be made from La Neuva direct to St. 
Pierre, across the intervening ridge, it might be possible 
to include it either in the excursion to La Neuva, or in 
the following day's employment on the Col du Sonadon. 
Neither that Col, the Valpelline, nor the Keusse de 
I'Arolla (or its alternative, the Chermontane) occupy more 
than an easy day, and the mountaineer would probably be 
sufficiently fresh to add the link to either the Sonadon or 
Argentiere, and so confine the entire route to an expedition 
of four days. 


By Stephen Winkworth. 

There is perhaps no portion of the Alps which, consider- 
ing its proximity to one of the great centres of Swiss 
travel, receives so little attention in proportion to its 
interest as the range of Mont Blanc to the E. of the Mer de 
Glace. How few, for instance, of the thousands who 
every year cross the Col de Balme, or ascend the Montan- 
vert, think of visiting either of the two great glaciers that 
flow into the valley of Chamounix between those points. 
One of these, the Glacier du Tour, has been already de- 
scribed in the first series of " Peaks, Passes, and Glaciers," 
and the following account of the Argentiere, and of a 
passage effected from it to the Swiss Val Ferret by the 
Glacier of La Neuva, will, it is hoped, afford a further proof 
of the yet unexhausted variety of scenery in the ice-world 

of Mont Blanc. 

If the reader will turn to the map he will see that the 
Glacier of Argentiere flows in nearly a straight line from 
the axis of the main chain almost to the village beai-ing 
the same name. It is, in fact, the largest glacier having 
one name, and flowing in one direction, in the whole 
range. The lower and middle parts are very much cre- 
vassed, but the upper portion is level and easily traversed. 
The passage across the main chain, described in the follow- 
ing pages, is not, as its name might seem to imply, over 




the rocks at the very head of the glacier, which seem 
from the north quite inaccessible, but through a gap, 
reached by a long and steep climb up a kind of bay or 
recess at the S.E. corner. It is by far the highest pass in 
the Mont Blanc range, being, as computed by Mr. Tuckett 
during a three hours' halt at the top in August, 1860, 
12,556 feet above the level of the sea, and ranking fifth in 
order of height among Swiss passes, — the other four being 
in the Monte Rosa district. The discovery of the passage 
was made by Auguste Simond, to whose coolness and 
readiness the writer is indebted for the success of the 


In the summer of 1860 I visited Chamounix, and in an 
excursion to the Jardin, and a passage of the Col du Geant, 
acquired my first knowledge of the peculiar character and 
sublimity of the range of Mont Blanc. I had procured 
the services of Auguste Simond in these expeditions, and 
he told me of a new col he had discovered while searching 
for crystals among the rocks at the S.E. corner of the 
Glacier d'Argentiere. He had not crossed it, but thought 
he knew its situation well enough for us to attack it from 
the S. on our way back to Chamounix. We were, how- 
ever, foiled in our attempt by a heavy fall of snow on the 
Col Ferret, which forbade all hope of success, especially 
as Simond knew the southern side to be very steep and 
liable to avalanches ; so we returned to Chamounix by the 
Val Ferret, the back of the Mont Catogne, and the Tete 
Noire,— a very interesting and varied walk. In the summer 
of 1861 I revisited Switzerland with my wife, and again 
had A. Simond as guide. He met us by appointment at 
Andermatt, and was not long in telling me that the Col 
d'Argentierehadnot yet been crossed,— Messrs. Tuckett and 
Wigram having, indeed, reached the col under his guidance 
the'^day after I left Chamounix, but having been unable to 



complete the passage, owing to the soft and dangerous 
state of the new-fallen snow. Of course we settled to 
attempt it on our arrival at Chamounix, though the easi- 
ness of the season, and the amount of snow in the higher 
regions of the Alps, made Simond doubtful of success. 
We were, however, rendered more sanguine in this respect 
by the favourable state of the snow on the Col du Geant, 
by which pass we reached Chamounix on the 19th of June, 
and I at once engaged P. Tobie Simond, who had been my 
second guide in 1860. 

The weather had been beautiful, but a change was evi-: 
dently brewing, and I felt that no time was to be lost in 
making our attempt. Accordingly, on the afternoon of 
the 21st of June, I walked up to Simond's house near Les 
Jines, where I found him and his son Francois busily 
engaged in preparing the wherewithal to make our party 
comfortable at the chalets of Argentiere. Simond told 
me he wanted to take his son as porter to the chalets, and 
on to the upper glacier, and eventually the lad made the 
whole expedition with us. We left Simond's house about 
4 P.M., ascending sharply through meadows into a wood, 
and soon found ourselves looking down on the Mer de Glace 
from a point nearly above the Chapeau. We then turned 
to the left, still ascending among trees, whose shade wa.s 
very refreshing in the hot and rather sultry afternoon. In 
about an hour and a half we emerged into an open space, 
and crossed some streams which flow from the Glacier de 
la Pendant. A little more wood and another stream or 
two brought us to the chalets, which are some little dis- 
tance from the Glacier d' Argentiere, and not far from the 
N.E. corner of the Glacier de la Pendant. These chalets, 
like most of those on the higher Alps, are not inhabited till 
July, and we therefore had the place to ourselves. In the 
one devoted to the art of cheese-making we soon had a 





good fire, and proceeded to unpack and attend to the com- 
forts of the inner man, by this time grown somewhat 
clamorous. Auguste now found, to his great regret, that he 
had forgotten to bring candles, and also some fresh butter 
he had made expressly for the occasion. We managed 
to make ourselves very comfortable without these luxuries, 
and before long I clambered up to a sort of wooden ham- 
mock, above the cow-pens in the other chalet, and with 
my knapsack for a pillow, and the stars looking down 
through the gaps in the roof, soon fell asleep. 

About 12.30 A.M. Auguste came in to wake me, with the 
intelligence that the weather continued fine, but was not 
frosty, and he feared the snow would be soft. We were 
soon at breakfast, and at 1.30 started on our way, the moon, 
in her third quarter, giving us just light enough to see our 
steps for about twenty minutes, when she sank behind the 
hill, and left us to pick our way with some difiSculty across 
the streams and beds of snow. The path ascended slightly, 
and then lay along the face of the hill. We made but slow 
progress, owing to the darkness, and did not get to the 
glacier till 3, though even then we were too early, and 
had to wait a little for sufficient light to see our way 
properly. I regretted very much that we were thus unable 
to enjoy the fuU beauty of the crevasses, which in this part 
of the glacier are very numerous and grand, the incline 
being considerable. The ice on which we stood has its 
origin in the snows of the Aiguille Verte, and we did not 
get on to that which flows from the head of the valley till 
we reached the upper level of the glacier.* This took us 
till nearly 4, so that we had now the full light of early 
morning. It was beautifully fine, a few misty clouds to 
the N. being the only vapour visible. 

• The two glaciers are, however. vindistinguiahaUe, as there is no 
mordine to separate them. 



We had now reached a point whence we could see the 
whole upper glacier, though not the col. The view was very 
grand, and of a character quite different from any glacier 
scenery I had previously seen ; and while Simond adjusted 
the rope, which it was now thought prudent to use, I had 
time to engrave the principal outlines deeply on my 
memory. Before us lay the glacier, level, with scarcely a 
visible crevasse, piercing to the very axis of the main chain, 
and surrounded on all sides with seemingly inaccessible 
precipices, save where it fell in magnificent confusion to- 
wards the valley. Immediately on our right towered the 
Aiguille Verte, white to the very summit, and yet so steep 
that one wondered how snow and ice found any lodgment. 
S. from the Aiguille Verte, and tending rather to the E., 
ran an uninterrupted chain of precipices, separating the 
Grlacier d'Argentiere from the Talefre, and crowned by 
those beautiful and often fantastic aiguilles which form 
one of the most striking characteristics in the scenery of the 
Mont Blanc range. These precipices were mostly too st^ep 
for snow to rest on, except in the couloirs, which streaked 
their sides with white ; but midway between the Aiguille 
Verte and the head of the glacier rose a graceful .snow- 
covered peak, the highest point of the Tours des Courtes. 
Eight before us, at the southern extremity of the glacier, 
the Mont Dolent rose in a beautiful cone of snow, fully 
4000 feet above our level. Across the glacier on our left 
were the craggy precipices of the Aiguilles d'Argentiere and 
Chardonnet, more massive and rugged than the Aiguille 
Verte or Mont Dolent. The eastern boundary of the glacier, 
connecting these Aiguilles with the Mont Dolent, is more 
broken than the two others, and to the glacier explorer 
even more interesting. Between the Chardonnet and the 
Argentiere is a tributary glacier, steep and crevassed, 
but I thought not impracticable, and leading — who knows 





where ? Simond thought to the Glacier du Tour, and at 
the time I agreed with him ; but it seems to me now quite 
possible that a passage may exist by it to the Glacier de 
Salena. At any rate it is an interesting question, and had 
we not been engaged in the solution of a still more attrac- 
tive problem, we should have tried to decide it. 

We had, however, no time to lose, and pushed on towards 
the S.E. corner of the glacier. In about half an hour we 
came in sight of the col, and stopped for our second break- 
fast, just before quitting the level to begin the ascent. 
Looking back from this point we had a fine view of the 
Buet, over the shoulder of the tributary glacier lately 
mentioned. The ascent proved, as is constantly the case 
on the snow, much longer than I had anticipated. We 
were now in a kind of recess, invisible from the point where 
we got our first view of the upper glacier, and rising pretty 
sharply towards the S.E. The rocks on the N.E. of this 
recess are said to be very rich in crystals, and some of the 
finest smoky varieties, the most expensive in the Chamou- 
nix collections, are found here. It was while hunting 
among these crags that Simond had discovered the col we 
were ''now approaching. Near the top we took to the 
rocks, and met with several crystals, one or two of con- 

siderable beauty. 

We reached the col at 8.30 A.M., and found at once the 
bottle which Messrs. Tuckett and Wigram had placed in a 
convenient niche the year before, and also Mr. Tuckett's 
thermometer, which indicated a minimum temperature of 
- 14° Fahr. After carefully noting the latter, I sat down to 
rest and enjoy the glorious view, while Simond almost im- 
mediately began reconnoitring for the descent. The 
weather was still fine, though not so clear as in the early 
morning, and the tops of the Italian Alps were mostly ob- 
scured by mist. Still we saw enough to make us think. 




that our point of view was superior to that of the Col du 
Geant, chiefly from the fact that we were at least 1400 
feet higher, and some peaks, including the wonderful cone 
of the Grivola, were quite clear. 

To the E. the view was free from cloud and very ex- 
tensive. Immediately before us were the Mont Velan, 
resembling the nave of some vast cathedral, with huge 
rock-buttresses springmg from its side, and the still more 
massive Grand Combin or Graffeneire. This latter par- 
ticularly attracted me, and gave me a greater sense of size 
and power than almost any other mountain I know. The 
Matterhorn, a little further to the left, was partly covered 
by the Dent d'Erin (or d'Herens), but the Dent Blanche 
w^as free and very beautiful. Beyond these again was the 
graceful form of the Weisshorn, still a virgin summit, 
though destined soon to yield to the indefatigable enter- 
prise of Professor Tyndall. Then came a number of lesser 
mountains, and a gap indicating the Khone valley ; and 
beyond this were more snowy summits, some belonging 
probably to the range W. of the Gemmi, and some to 
the Bernese Oberland. I feel, however, that in thus pick- 
ing out a few of the most conspicuous names, I am giving 
the reader but a faint idea of the host of mountain peaks 
which filled the view, range beyond range, till their outlines 
were lost in the soft haze which enveloped the horizon. 

But Simond is already some distance below, and will be 
signalling for us to follow him directly; so I write our 
names and deposit them in the bottle, and look to see the 
kind of work before us. The col on which we are standing 
is a ridge of snow like a Gothic roof, running from rocks 
connected with the Mont Dolent on our right, to those 
w^e are just leaving on our left, — a distance of about 
one hundred yards. The last ascent has been about the 
steepness of an average Gothic gable, but the southern 




1 1' 




side is much steeper, so that the little strip, which is all 
we can see of the Val Ferret, seems just at our feet, and 
yet the chalets of the hamlet of Folie are scarcely visible. 
This snow-slope, by which we have to descend, is broken 
here and there almost from the top by furrows, which soon 
deepen into channels more or less deep and wide, and 
down which, in the present soft state of the snow, ava- 
lanches are often pouring. Simond has made his way down 
a ridge between two such channels, and now signals us to 
follow him, as he has found some jutting rocks which will 
help us. I go first, with a rope round my waist, held by 
Tobie Simond, and Franfois brings up the rear ; and as the 
snow is soft, and gives good foothold, we soon reach the 
rocks. These, interspersed with short snow-slopes, l^^st 
about half an hour ; and then, to gain a fresh series, we are 
obliged to traverse about 150 yards of steep snow, scored 
with deep avalanche channels. Of course we cross as 
rapidly as we can, but for some reason the lad Fran9ois 
lingers, and Auguste will not stir till his son has passed 
the danger. He crosses safely, and we scramble on 
down rocks, then another snow-ridge, and then more 
rocks, some of which task our climbing powers. At last 
they get too precipitous, and we must take again to 

the snow. 

We are now approaching the Glacier proper, and see, to 
our perplexity, that the slope we are on ends in a snow-cliff 
or precipice, inside which runs a crevasse. This formation 
is bounded on either hand by precipitous rocks, and seems 
to bar all ecress. After some time Aueniste discovers a 
channel, so deep that it cuts the snow-cliff to the bottom, 
and allows access to the glacier. The dirty colour of the 
channel shows it to be a frequent passage for debris and 
stones, as well as snow ; and while we are debating whether 
to commit ourselves to it for the few minutes that would 



be necessary, we hear a noise overhead, and, looking up, see 
an avalanche coming upon us. Happily the rocks on the 
left are very near, and we get to their shelter in time ; but 
as it is the hottest part of the day, it is thought prudent 
to wait an hour or two before attempting the channel 
again. Accordingly we find a little perch on the rocks, 
and proceed to dinner, as it is now 1 p.m., and we have had 
nothing since 4.30 A.M. After dinner my companions 
settle themselves for a siesta, and leave me to the contem- 
plation of the view. It was of course much more circum- 
scribed than that from the col, but still very beautiful, — 
the Monts Velan and Grraffeneire being the chief points 
of interest. 

About 2.30 we started again, and descending the 
channel in safety, reached in a few minutes the Griacier 
of La Neuva*, and had seen the last of our difficulties. 
We went merrily and rapidly onwards, looking back now 
and then with no small pleasure at the col and the 
descent, and at our perch on the rocks, which at one time 
Tobie thought would have been for many hours our 
prison. I now discovered that the Griacier of La Neuva did 
not owe its entire origin to the snows we had just left, but 
came principally from highei- ground to the K E. It was 
much crevassed, but looked practicable, and I thought 
might possibly communicate with the Glacier de Salena. 

We left the glacier where it began to break down into 
the valley, but found we had made a mistake, and should 
soon lose our way in hanging woods ; so, regaining it, we 
had a tedious and dirty walk down the moraine, after 
which at about 4 p.m. we crossed a long waste of stones. I 
am too little acquainted with the marks of glacier action 
to decide whether this stony tract is owing to the retreat 

* La Folie was the name given to this glacier by the peasantry in the 
valley, from the hamlet in the Val Ferret, just below its debouchure. 




of the ice, or to the impetuous rush of the glacier torrents 
in the spring. As soon as we had got fairly beyond it, and 
our feet had felt the turf again, we halted for oiu- last 
meal, and rarely, I think, have cold veal and jambon been 
more appreciated, or St. Jean tasted better than on that 
occasion. Of course we drank to the new col, still full in 
view, though now looking so little like a pass that we 
thouo-ht no one would ever find it from this side.* 
Nothing now remained between us and civilisation, as re- 
presented by the little hamlet of Folie, but the main 
stream of the Val Ferret, called, like its brethren of the 
Val d'Entremont and the Val des Bagnes, the Drance. 
This did not at first seem feasible, as the torrent was 
swollen and rapid, from the melting of the snow by the 
hot morning sun ; but the passage was managed at last by 
the help of a fir- trunk which we threw across. From Folie 
we walked down to Orsieres, where we arrived at 8.30 p.m., 
and the next day I returned to Chamounix by the 
Col de Balme. 

I cannot conclude without strongly recommending this 
excursion to all lovers of glacier and mountain scenery. 
It is one upon which I look back with great pleasure, and 
I am sure no one undertaking it could be disappointed, 
either in the magnificent aiguille and glacier scenery of the 
Upper Argentiere, or in the view from the col, embracing, 
as it does, the mountain ranges of Savoy, Piedmont, and 
Southern Switzerland, or finally, in the exhilarating excite- 
ment of the steep descent. I think it best to take the 
pass, as we did, from the northern side, and it is certainly 
advisable to sleep at the chalets of Argentiere, otherwise 
the expedition woidd be too fatiguing. 

♦ In this, however, we were mistaken ; for I understand that the Rev. 
J. F. Hardy reached the col from the southern side not very long after 
our passage, but did not cross it. 



By Frederick William Jacomb. 

Subsequent to the opening out of the Col de la Valpel- 
line, other intermediate links of the " High Level " route 
from Chamounix to Zermatt were supplied by the passages 
of Cols now described. It remained, however, to force a 
passage between St. Pierre, or Orsieres^ and Chermontane 
to the south of the Graff eneire, by the Glacier du Mont 
Durand, and the route would then be complete; 

Accordingly, on the afternoon of Monday, the 5th 
August, 1861, Mn W. Mathews and I walked from St. 
Pierre up to the Great St. Bernard^ in order to compare 
our barometer with the one at the Hospice, so that with 
that test, another made a coliple of days previously at the 
observatory at Geneva, and a subsequent one to be taken 
at Turin, a tolerably safe basis for calculations might be 

We returned to St. Pierre late in the evening, and at 
3.45 A.M. on the following nlorning left its "Hotel du 
Dejeuner de Najpoleon^^ charitably hoping that the hostelry 
had afforded for the consular repast better specimens 
of Egyptian flesh-pots than it had furnished us. We 
were accompanied by our two guides^ Jean Baptiste Croz 
and Michel Croz, of Chamounix, two capital icemen, 
and worthy fellows. Our object was to ascend, by the 
Col de la Maison Blanche, to the snow-basin forming" 
the head of the Corbassiere glacier. To the south of this 

YOL. I. R 





basin, and south-west of the GrafFeneire, lay apparently 
a snow Col, which Mr. Mathews, in his ascent of the 
Graifeneire in 1857, had conceived would connect the 
Corbassiere either with the Mont Durand glacier and 
Chermontane, or with the valley of Ollomont. If the 
former, it would constitute the wanting link in the " High 
Level " route ; and therefore its investigation had now an 
additional interest. If the latter, it would give us, 
instead of the hackneyed and uninteresting track by the 
St. Bernard, a new mode of access to Aosta. 

Climbing the slopes behind the village, we passed, on 
our right, a picturesque gorge, whence the torrent of the 
Valsorey or Vassorey issues in a considerable fall, and 
soon afterwards reached the upper level of the valley. 
At the expiration of an hour and a half we gained a 
point where the valley turned south-east, whilst a tribu- 
tary stream rushed down the slopes from the north-east. 
A little beyond the bifurcation is the last chalet. We 
went north-east, up the side of the tributary stream, and, 
ascending steeply, at 6.25 a.m. halted for twenty-five 
minutes for the second breakfast, and obtained, to the 
west, a glorious view of Mont Blanc and his attendant 
aiguilles, and, to the south, one equally fine of the Velan's 
snowy summit. 

Kocks, interspersed with small couloirs and snow- 
slopes, occasionally requiring the use of the axe, suc- 
ceeded ; and at 9.15 a.m. we reached the top of the crags, 
and a quarter of an hour later the snow Col de la Maison 
Blanche itself. The barometer was immediately set up, 
protected from the sun by a plaid stretched over a 
couple of alpenstocks, and at 10 a.m. was carefully 
observed. The height of the mercurial column, compared 
with the corresponding observations at Turin, Geneva, and 
St. Bernard, gives the following results, the calculations 



having been made by the tables of Delcros and Guyot, 
based on the formula of Laplace : — 

St. Bernard 

11,226 feet 

Southwards from the basin a snow-slope stretched up 
to the depression under the GrafFeneire, which Mr. 
Mathews had supposed would afford a pass to Chermon- 
tane or Ollomont, Fifty minutes took us up the slope, 
when, to our great disappointment, we found that there 
was no practicable passage on its further or south side ; in 
fact, that the Col was a myth altogether. The scene was 
peculiar. A steep ice-slope fell away from our feet to a 
secondary glacier below, Tl^is slope continued in a semi- 
circle to the east, sweeping round a kind of bay under 
the GrafFeneire, and forming a huge crater, its sides lined 
with precipitous ice-slopes, furrowed with the passage of 
debris to the glacier filling the basin below. It was 
obvious that no communication forwards in this direction 
existed, and that it would be no use cutting our way 
down; for the rocky ridge forming the further side of 
the semicircle was an effectual barrier to progress under 
the Graffeneire, and descending the glacier would lead us 
more in the direction of the Valsorey and Velan than 
either of Chermontane ot Ollomont. 

Disappointing as tl],is was, in necessits^ting our re- 
turn to St. Pierre, yet the excursion had neither been 
without its use, in establishing the fact that there is no 
connection between the glacier of Corbassiere and either 
the Durand or Ollomont, nor without an interest, in disclos- 
ing around us so magnificent a scene. Westwards stretched 
the whole chain of Mont Blanc. To the south, on either 
side of the Velan, were the singular peak of the Grivola 


R 2 







and the vast snow-slopes of the Euitor, whose nearer ac- 
quaintance we were soon after to make ; whilst towards 
Dauphine rose a curious mountain, with its top cleft in 
twain, so as to resemble a pair of wings. The Glacier du 
Valsorey ran up, eastwards of the Velan, to a tempting 
looking Col in the direction of St. Eemy or Etroubles ; 
but, as the further side of it had not been examined, it 
was impossible to judge whether it was practicable to force 
a passage in that direction. Facing round, the huge 
mass of the Graffeneire towered up close above us on 
the north-east, the slopes of its lower part torn into mag- 
nificent snow-cliffs ; whilst due north stretched the great 
basin of the Corbassiere glacier, with the peak of the Grand 
Combin, or Combin de Corbassiere^ rising in front, and 
concealing the Petit Combin. This basin on the west 
elongated into two bays, — the one partially inclosed by 
the slopes of the Maison Blanche, and the other leading 
to the Glacier de Boitveire^ and the passage effected in 
that direction to Aleve by M. Studer. It appeared to us 
that the point which we now occupied was about 500 feet 
above the Maison Blanche. This would give it a height 
of about 11,712 feet. 

After a fifty minutes' halt, we left at noon, and glis- 
saded down the slopes to the Maison Blanche again. Mr. 
Mathews seemed so delighted to renew his acquaintance 
with the scene of his explorations in former years, that he 
skidded down with all his wonted agility. From the 
Maison Blanche we rapidly descended the rocks and 
couloirs to our halting-place of the morning, which we 
reached at 2.30 p.m. Sere we made a vigorous attack 
upon the now useless provisions, got under weigh again at 
3.40 P.M., and gained our former quarters at the " Z)e- 
jeuner'' at St. Pierre, at 5.30 p.m.,— the latter part of the 
walk being in rain. The resources of the establishment 

for an evening meal proved so meagre, even in these 
enlightened days, that we fully understood why Napoleon 
had had enough of the inn in his morning refection, and 
had passed on to smoke his pipe with the jolly brethren of 
St. Bernard. 

In the evening, Mr. Mathews feeling imwell, it was 
decided he should go quietly over the St. Bernard next day 
to Aosta, whilst I should take the two men, and endeavour 
to force a passage, under tho Graffeneire, on to the Glacier 
du Mont Durand, and thence, by the chalet of By, to 
Ollomont and Aosta, — ascertaining, when on the Glacier du 
Mont Durand, whether it was feasible to traverse it down 
to Chermontane, and so complete the '' High LfCvel " route. 

Accordingly, at 4.30 next morning (August 7th), I 
started with the two Croz', thoi:^gh a short night between 
two grandes courses is rather poor preparation for ex- 
ploring a sex'ies of unknown Alpine passes ; but it was 
important to try and complete the route, As far as the 
bifurcation before mentioned, which we reached, at 5.40 
A.M., our line of march was the same as that of the pre- 
ceding day. From this point, instead of turning off 
towards the Maison Blanche, we |iow continued along the 
Valsorey torrent, and in ten minutes more passed the last 
chalet. Ten minutes further brought us to the foot of a 
rock jutting out into the valley, and apparently cutting off 
further progress. A passage over it, however, was effected 
in fifteen minutes, by means of a track cut up its face by 
the herdsmen. We emerged from the top into the upper 
reach of the valley, which we followed for half an hour, 
high above the Valsorey glacier. 

At 6.45 A.M. we reached a point north-east of the little 
glacier lake of La Gouille, which nestles under the pre- 
cipices of the Velan, on the further side of the Valsorey gla- 




cier, and at its junction with another glacier, called Tzeudey 
on the Federal sheet. Here we halted for a few minutes to 
reconnoitre. The structure of the Valsorey glacier was 
well defined, and at its lower part were some small glacier 
tables. Looking a little to the east of the lake, the eye 
rested on the depression, under the east shoulder of the 
Velan, and at the head of the Valsorey glacier, which we 
had, when on the MaisoL Blanche the previous day, sup- 
posed to be a Ool, over which a passage in the direction of 
St. Kemy or Etroubles might possibly be made, if the fur- 
ther side of it should be practicable. Its north side, 
however, on which we were now looking^ appeared much 
broken up. North-eastwards from it towards the 
Graffeneire, stretched a serrated line of black preci- 
pices, seamed with small couloirs and ice^slopes. Under 
the west side of this ridge flowed along the Valsorey 
glacier towards us ; whilst in the opposite direction came 
to meet it, from the Graffeneire and the Col which we 
hoped to make, th-e Glacier du Son ad on, very dirty in its 
lower part, and bearing a large lateral moraine. 

We were almost at the bifurcation of the two glaciers, 
and it was clear that, if any communication with the 
Durand glacier and Chermontane was to be effected, it 
must be in the direction of the Sonadon glacier, and by a 
kind of depression in the ridge, which we could see at a 
great height beyond, under the shoulder of the Graffeneire. 
But the lower part of the Sonadon glacier was cut off from 
its upper portion by a vast ice-fall ; it would therefore be 
necessary to scale, almost to a level with the Col, the pre- 
cipices running down from the Graffeneire, and bordering 
the glacier on its north-western side, and then drop down 
on to the glacier, and work up it and the neve beyond to 
the Col. 









. I ' 



Away, therefore, we started up the mountain steeps, 
across an old moraine, and then up rocks, interspersed 
with the usual snow and ice-slopes. After some time oc- 
cupied in this amusement, we came to the conclusion that 
the second breakfast was ^ necessary prelude to further 
conquest ; so at 8.10 a.m. we sat dowrt to feed by the side 
of a stream rushing over the tocks from the show above. 
As we did so, Mont Blanc wished us good morning and 
success by taking off his night-cap of mist, and standing 
out, with his attendant aiguilles, in unsullied splendour. 
It was late in the day to get up ; but perhaps the hoary 
veteran had been the preceding day much bored by 
tourists visiting him, up the well-marked, chicken-bone- 
and-sandwich-paper-strewn route from Chamounix. 

Already young avalanches were beginning to disengage 
themselves from their parent snows on the eastern ridge, 
and oil the Velan opposite us. The halt lasted half an 
hour, and at 8.45 A.M. we were again breasting tte rocks, 
which we found in some parts very steep. At one point 
we had to clamber, for a considerable distance, up a kind 
of watetfall, which did not tend to keep us dry. Beyond 
this we passfed up a couloir, which seemed to have been 
chosen, with most praiseworthy pertinacity by falling 
rocks, as the course by whicb, when tired of dignified soli- 
tude and elevated quiescence, they seek a lower level 
and society of less pretension. I had sent Jean forwards 
to reconnoitre, and as he dislodged a perfect shower of 
rocks and stones, for the nibst part large enough to give 
us no further trouble in making new passes, Michel and 
I were put to divers straits, much ingenuity, and unwonted 
agility, in dodging the lively inissiles. Animated by this 
hostile fire, we Worked up the couloir, and emerging 
higher up at a gap in thfe ridge, found a shale-bank of 





easy slope, down which we quickly shot to the Sonadon 
glacier below. 

It was now 9.40 a.m., and from that time up to 11.10 
A,M. we were rapidly pushing up the glacier and the 
neve above leading to the Col. Throughout the day we 
had walked fast, in order to have more time for investi- 
gating the unknown ground on the further side. We 
passed under some superb seracs, which, lower down, 
formed a kind of corridor, ending in two enormous pillars, 
entrance gates to an avenue fit for giants to traverse. 
Some of the crevasses through and around which we wound 
were very imposing, especially one which exhibited a vast 
crater, or circular grotto, from the roof of which depended 
icicles, like bundles of spears, bayonets, and other arms of 
war. Perhaps it was the armoury in which were stored 
the colossal weapons of the Titanic race. The whole shim- 
mered with that wondrous ethereal blue light so often 
remarked by Alpine travellers. 

There was, however, no difficulty whatever. It was 
simply a steady grind, occasionally cutting with the axe a 
few steps up a slope, or making a wide detour to avoid 
crevasses or treacherous-looking snow. As we approached 
the Col showers of stones were continually falling from 
the rocks of the GrafFeneire, which rose northwards, or to 
our left ; but they did not reach far enough over the neve 
to cause us much disquietude. From these rocks the Col 
fell away in a broad plateau of snow, with a few flat stones 
in the centre of the depression, whilst on our right hand, 
or south, the before-mentioned ridge from the Velan, 
assuming the name of " Aiguilles Vertes " as it approaches 
the Col, ended towards the east in a huge snow-hump, 
shaped like a saddle. Separated from this, and still fur- 
ther east, a line of bliick rocks, called the Tete de By, ran 

down at right angles towards the Durand glacier, and over 
them, it was clear, lay our way towards the chalets of By 
and Ollomont. The actual double peak of the Graf- 
feneire was concealed by its off-shoots in the foreground ; 
but a little to the west lay a secondary glacier, the base 
of which we had passed in ascending to the Col. This 
glacier came straight down towards us from the south- 
west spur of the Graffeneire, and it seemed to us, first, 
that immediately on the further side of the spur lay the 
ice-basin or crater which had the preceding day cut off 
our further progress, under the (xraffeneire, from the 
mythical Col above the Maison Blanche, and, next, that 
we were now nearly as high as that Col. 

This latter fact, coupled with a comparison with 
points of known altitude, induced us to fix the height 
of the Col which we hajl just effected at about 3500 
metres, or 11,483 feet. Unfortunately, we had no means 
of determining the elevation exactly ; for the previous 
day's jolting on the rocks had so disarranged the internal 
economy of our instrument, that it was suffering from the 
common disorder of bubbles, which the most energetic 
treatment had failed to remedy. 

From our feet stretched away the Durand glacier in a 
graceful curve, at first east, and then, tending to the north 
of east, bounded on its northern side by the precipices of 
the Tour de Boussine, spurring out from the Graffeneire, 
whilst the saddle-backed snow-hummock, the Tete de By, 
and still lower the Mont Avril, flanked the southern edge. 
The glacier below the neve maintained an almost uniform 
inclination, except towards its lower end, where, from our 
elevation, we could see it was broken up and crevassed. 
Beyond, the eye rested on the slopes and chalets of Cher- 
montane, while further still stretched up the vast glacier 




of Chermontane, or d'Otemma, between the bounding 
ranofes of the Pic d'Otemma on the north, and the off- 
shoots of Mont Gele on the south. On the further or 
northern side of the Pic d'Otemma, the beautiful Breney 
glacier streamed down towards the foot of the Durand. 
In the far distance Monte Eosa herself was hid, but other 
parts of the chain were quite distinct. 

The Durand glacier appeared perfectly practicable to 
Chermontane ; and as the Col established a communication 
from it towards St. Piel're, it was now quite clear that the 
connecting link had been supplied, and that the " High- 
Level " route was complete. The Col thereupon received 
the name of the Col Duraod ; but, inasmuch as the subse- 
quently published sheet of the Federal survey thus desig- 
nates the Col on the east of the Dent Blanche, it has been 
considered better, in order to avoid confusion, to give to 
our Col the appellation of Sonadoh, from the glacier of 
that name up which we had just forced a passage. More- 
over, this designation is, perhaps, the more appropriate of 
the two, as previous observations had almost established 
the practicability of the lower part of the Durand glacier, 
whereas the Sonadon glacier had hitherto been a mare in- 

To prevent any doubt of the route being complete, aiid 
of the head of the Durand glacier being as passable as its 
foot, we resolved to descend the neve a little before turning 
off for By ; for, though we coUld not yet tell with what 
difficulties we might meet in getting to By, yet the day 
was still young, and the establishment of the route too 
important to allow us to neglect the present chance of 
examining the head of the Durand. 

After twenty-five niitiutes' halt on the Cbl, during which 
we drank to its perfect preservation in d sip from my 



whisky-flask — an unwonted excess, which made Michel 
intensely jocose — at 11.35 a.m. we started down the neve, 
and found full confirmation of our speculation from the 
Col above, as to the practicability of the glacier. Mr. 
Hardy, who crossed the pass three weeks later, gives the 
following narrative of his excursion. 






By the Rev. J. F. Hardy, B.D. 

Early on the morning of the 26th of August, 1861, a 
quaternion of Cantabs, E. B. Prest, Gr. Johnson, J. A. 
Hudson, and J. F. Hardy, started from Zermatt to try 
a cross-country route thence to Chamounix. We had 
obtained some useful hints on the subject from Jacomb 
and Mathews, and had been fortunate enough to secure 
the companionship of Pierre Perren and Moritz Ander- 

The first day we proceeded by the Col de la Valpelline 
(described by F. W. Jacomb, p. 306) to Prerayen. When 
about half an hour from the chalets, which are dignified 
by this name, we encountered a Piedmontese peasant, 
who inquired if we had come from Aosta that day. 
"Xo, we have come from Zermatt over the mountains." 
" Then you go to-night to Aosta?" " No, we sleep here, and 
pass to-morrow over the glaciers to Chermontane." Pity, 
fear, and wonder were written in his face, and distinguish- 
able in his tone and gesture, as, with the words, " Pauvres 
gens^'' he turned, and fled as fron^ hopeless lunatics. I 
have no doubt that the laugh with which his farewell 
words were received must have confirmed the opinion 

* "With the view of maintaining the continuity of the " High Level " route, 
it has been assumed that each excursion was made from west to east, and 
titles have been given in accordance with this supposition. The pass, how- 
ever, described by Mr. Hardy, was taken in the opposite direction. — Ed. 



which he had evidently formed of our insanity, and could 
he have been present every time the words '^ pauvres 
geiis " were repeated in the Course of the next week, he 
would have thought us madder than ever. Was the 
coffee thick, or the milk unattainable, — was the bread hard, 
or the cheese high, — was a crevasse too wide, or did a stone 
come rattling down, — "pauvres gens " rose simultaneously 
to the lips of all, and a choral laugh of twenty-horse 
power was siire to follow. 

Leaving the Valpelline the next day by a lateral gorge 
which opens a little above Prerayeii, we kept for about 
two hours along the regular route of the Col de Collon J 
then, bearing away to the left for three hours more 
we reached a col, which we proposed to call the Col 
d'Otemma, but which I perceive has received from Mr. 
Tuckettj the first person I believe who passed it, the high- 
sounding name of Col de la Eeuse de I'Arolla. An easy 
stroll down the Glacier d'Otemma brought us to Cher- 
montane by 3 P.M. 

Here we met with a most hospitable reception : we were 
regaled with the choicest serac and an unlimited supply of 
milk. Shortly after oUr arrival a young guide of the 
neighbourhood made his appearance, bearing a large 
quantity of fresh white bread and Parmesan cheese, which 
he had intended for his own supper. He was easily, 
however, persuaded to part with these delicacies for coin, 
and to content himself with the black bread of the chalet, 
which to our taste was somewhat harder than paving- 
stones> and about as refreshing* As our young frietid was 
anxious to attach himself to our party, we asked him some 
questions touching the Grlacier du Mont Durand, and the 
Sonadon col by which we hoped on the morrow to reach St 
Pierre. He first asserted the impossibility of such a 
passage, and then offered to show us the way. Not exactly 




i> I 

t ^ 

perceiving the advantage to be derived from such uncer- 
tain guidance, we declined his services. Thus thrown on 
our own resources, we proceeded to make a careful ex- 
amination with our glasses of the Glacier du Mont Durand. 
We soon perceived that its lower end was too much 
crevassed to allow of rapid progress, if of any ; but we 
saw good reason to hope that by keeping to the slopes of 
Mont Avril for an hour or so, we should be enabled 
to strike the glacier at a point where no serious 
difficulties were likely to impede us. 

Satisfied at having discovered the line of starting, more 
than half the battle in a new route, we returned to the 
chalets to lounge away the summer evening. Soon the 
cows came trooping homewards, their bells making 
pleasant music; and we chatted with the herdsmen as 
they passed from one to another of their comely charges. 
We now learnt that this was the last night they were to 
spend at Chermontane, and had we been a day later in 
our visit, we should not only have met with no serac and 
no milk, but we should have found the chalet close-barred 
and locked for the winter. Congratulating ourselves on our 
good fortune, we gathered round the fire to partake of the 
coffee which Moritz had prepared with his usual skill, and 
then betook ourselves to our literally stony couches ; but 
alas ! not to sleep. The absence of hay, the paucity of 
covering, and the coldness of the night, would probably 
have been easily forgotten could we have secured quiet ; 
but the excitement of our hosts in making preparations for 
their Exodus, the cleaning of pots and pans, the fuss made 
over the last batch of cheese which was to be turned out in 
the morning, and, above all, the horribly unmusical croon- 
ing songs of thirty or forty verses, sung to an air which 
sounded something like "Buy a Broom" reduced to a 
Gregorian chant, drove the sleepiest of us to utter despair. 



At length about 2 a.m. the last pot is polished, and the 
last song sung. Silence reigns in the hut ; now perhaps 
we shall sleep. Oh, dear, no ! nothing of the sort ! A pig 
afflicted with bronchitis takes to railing at the coldness of 
the weather, and an asthmatic cow joins in his maledic- 
tions; a jackass, disturbed by the duo, gives them a bit of 
his mind; and in a few minutes the air rings with brayings 
and gruntings and lowings innumerable. "It's no use 
lying here : let 's get up, have our breakfast, and start at 
once." No sooner said than done, Pierre and Moritz 
make up the fire and put on the coffee, while we turn 
out in search of a stream for our morning ablutions. 

At 3.40 A.M. our landlord receives our adieux, which 
have a certain chinking sound about them, and we set to 
work to climb the lower grass-slopes of Mont Avril. At 
first we bear away to the left till we are close to the 
Glacier de Fenetre, whose pinnacles glitter in the moon- 
light; then, zigzagging to the right, we find ourselves with 
the earliest dawn some 200 yards above the right bank of 
the Mont Durand glapier, Dropping down by some easy 
shale screaghs, 9,nd crossing the moraine, we push up the 
centre of the glacier for some distance, till we are forced 
by the increasing crevasses to take to the rocks on the left 
bank. Creeping carefully along these, we rise above the 
level of the highest ice-fall, and about 6 A. m. pass on to a 
nearly even plateau of unbroken neve. 

We now make rapid progress ; and finding that we have 
plenty of time before us, we detern^ine to leave our 
direct route, and examine a col which apparently leads in 
the direction of Aosta. We reach the col at 7.15 a.m. and 
find our ide^-s correct. There is evidently an easy descent * 
past the chalets of By to Ollomont, and thence to Aosta 
itself, upon whose turrets the morning sun is playing. 

* This route had been previously taken by F. W. Jacomb. 




Beyond, ridge behind ridge, rise the beautiful Italian hills, 
with colours as rich and as delicately blended as the tints 
of a ripe nectarine, while Mont Velan, with its massive 
buttresses, and the long ridge of the Tete de Chenaille, 
form a noble foreground. We must not, however, linger 
here too long. We retrace our steps for half an hour, and 
then bear gradually away to the left, sweeping round close 
under some rocks, which we afterwards discover to be the 
base of the GrafFeneii'e, till at 9.30 a.m. we arrive at a col 
no doubt; but can it be the col of which we are in search? 
Before us lies an extensive glacier stretdhing far away 
into the valley beneath. No such glacier appears either 
in Studer's or in Mathews' map between the top of the 
Glacier du Mont Durand and St. Pierre; and though we 
know the maps are incorrect, we can hardly believe in so 
serious an omission as this. No ! we must have blundered 
in some way ; we have kept too much to the right ; this 
must be the Glacier de Corbassiere, the valley, the Val des 
Bagnes. One thing is clear : we must go forward, either 
down the glacier, or by the rocks into the ravine at our 
feet, and then hold a council of war as to our further pro- 
gress. Snatching a few moments for the enjoyment of a 
petite goute, and of the superb view which our station 
commands of the whole range of Mont Blanc, we start 
with all the excitement of explorers down our unknown 
glacier. For the first few minutes all goes smoothly 
enough ; the snow is in fair order, the crevasses neither 
numerous nor wide ; but we have scarcely descended 500 
feet, when these assume so ugly an appearance that 
Moritz and Pierre run off to examine the rocks. They 
come back with serious faces, which say clearly " no go " 
without any need of words^ and again we attack the ice. 
An hour and a half passes, we have been on the move the 
whole time, yet we have hardly made any perceptible 



advance ; the crevasses get larger and more entangled, till 
at last one stupendous chasm bars our path, and deprives 
us of our last hope of reaching the valley by the glacier. 
Back again in our old footsteps for upwards of an hour, 
and then we try for the rocks at a lower point than that 
at which we examined them before. An ugly moraine 
separates us from them, and we have to try two or three 
places before we succeed in crossing it. Once fairly on the 
rocks, we feel certain of ultimate success ; still, from the 
point at which we have struck them, descent is utterly im- 
possible, and we sweep away to the right, rising some two 
or three hundred feet. At length we come to a queer- 
looking gully, which some one at once christens "Ze ^ranc? 
E scalier;''^ and, though the stones slip from beneath us, and 
fall from above us in tolerably large numbers, we deter- 
mine on risking the descent. 

Down we go slowly and steadily till we come to a point, 
where our grand staircase changes into a perpendicular 
trough, and matters look uglier than ever. Moritz, how- 
ever, undertakes to get us down. Fastening the rope round 
me, he dismisses me with an, ^^ Allez, Monsieur , allez, , 
seulement,^^ which being interpreted means, " Go-a-head, 
stick your feet anywhere you can, and nowhere if there 
isn't anywhere." Proceeding on this principle, I get to 
the bottom of the trough in safety, unfasten the rope from 
my waist, and await my companions, who come down one 
by one in the same fashion, till Moritz is left alone at the 
top with no one to hold the rope for him. He, however, 
has long ago made up his mind how to act. Throwing 
down to us the now useless rope, he spreads himself out 
as much as he can, so as to get the largest amount of 
friction called into play, and then with a catch here, and a 
kick there, rushes down in a mysterious manner, which 
makes him very hot, and which would carry him consider- 



VOL. I. 





1. 1 


ably farther than he intends, did we not staAd with out- 
stretched arms to catch him, and bring him to a feafe 

This was our last difficulty. The rocks became less 
precipitous every minute, and at 2.30 p.m. we were seated 
at lunch at the head of the valley. Scarcely had we 
started again when we met some intelligent natives, who 
gladdened our hearts by informing us that we were but 
two hours from St. Pierre. We had discovered the right 
col, after all. We learnt that the name of the glacier was 
the Sonadon, and that it was considered quite impracti- 
cable. Indeed, as we looked back we saw that it was 
broken in the most singular manner by a ridge of perpen- 
dicular rocks some 300 feet or 400 feet in height, which 
stretched right across it from one bank to the other. Had 
we succeeded in dodging the crevasses, we could never 
have effected a descent by this wall, which was worn quite 
smooth by the drippings from the glacier. 

An easy walk brought us all well pleased, though well 
tired, to the little village of St. Pierre at 5.30 p.m. ; and a 
good dinner, with a bottle or two of excellent Fully, finished 
the day. 


By Frederick William Jacomb. 

From the neve of the Durand glacier below the Col du 
Sonadon we struck straight up to the Tete de By on the 
south, over which, we conceived, lay our direction for By. 
Clambering to the top of the ridge, we looked southwards, 
on a wide snow-field at a considerable depth below us. In 
descending the rocks a little caution was requisite, the 
necessity of which was increased as we cut our way down a 
small couloir, which, ending abruptly on the edge of a berg- 
schrund, separated the base of the rocks from the snow. A 
bold jump carried us across the bergschrund, but half buried 
us in the now softened snow. 

After descending the snow-field a little way, we 
separated, and took different routes towards its edge, in 
order to save time in seeking for the proper direction. 
While thus occupied, we started some chamois up the 
rocks to the west. Jean struck away south-westwardly, 
Michel rather less westwardly, whilst I went south, and, 
reaching a few rocks, below which the snow-slopes fell 
away more rapidly, I halted to eat icicles, and await the 
pre-arranged signals of the others. Presently I saw Jean 
retiirning, a sure sign that his direction was not the right 

f 1 

* Mr. Hardy has described the passage between the Col du Sonadon and 
Chermontane. An alternative route, however, had been taken by Mr. 
Jacomb. After giving an account of his descent a short distance in an 
easterly direction down the Durand glacier, Mr. Jacomb continues his 

s 2 






one. Shortly afterwards I observed Michel, after care- 
fully sounding with his pole, skidding away down the 
slopes — an equally certain proof that his route was practi- 
cable ; so I made a detour round the rocks, and was soon 
glissading merrily towards him. From the foot of the 
slopes we passed on to some flat slaty rocks, over which 
the snow-water was flowing, and at 1.5 p.m. sat down in full 
view of the wondrous Grivola, in the Cogne country, to the 
south of Aosta. 

There was no doubt now of our being able to get down 
to By, and thence forwards to Ollomont and Aosta, though 
these places were still a long way from us. We therefore 
halted an hour, feasting luxuriously and digesting with 

divers pipes. 

At 2.10 P.M. we started again down the rocks and the 
mountain-slopes beyond, occasionally crossing a mild tor- 
rent, using alpenstocks as leaping-poles. Late though it was 
for the glorious Alpine flowers, and many as are the places 
in the Alps famous for a display of their varied beauties, 
I know few parts so profusely adorned as these slopes. 
I found Campanula barbata, C. cenisia, Gentiana 
bavarica, G. campestris, Pedicularis rostrata, Geum 
mmtanum, Aster alpinus, Sempervivum alpinum, 
Saxifraga oppositifolia, THfolium alpinum^ Giiaphalium 

At 3.30 P.M. we reached the chalets of By, and found 
them inhabited by quite a respectable-looking community ; 
shortly after we struck the track from the Col de Fenetre, 
which we followed to Ollomont, where we arrived at 4.20 
P.M. From here to Valpelline, which we reached at 5. 1 5 p.m., 
owing to the workings of the copper mines, the water was 
much discoloured. At the entrance of the village was a 
miserable little cabaret, whilst lower down, opposite the 
foundry, was another, looking a trifle better, and dignified 



with the name of the " Hotel des Mines ;" but a traveller 
must be tired indeed to stop here instead of pushing on to 
Aosta. The foundry is'a large establishment for the melt- 
ino- of the ore brought down from Ollomont, and the 
draught is suppUed by a kind of culvert, carried up the 
hill-side opposite, instead of by a chimney. 

From Valpelline we followed the road on the east side 
of the valley by Roysan to Aosta. The road was in parts 
paved with those villanous boulders, so teasing at the 
close of a grande course ; but we never halted from the 
rapid pace at which we had started from the rocks some 
hours previously, and at 7.15 p.m. walked into Aosta, 
gladly passed the dirty hotel in the Place Charles Albert, 
and pushed on to the excellent Hotel de Mont Blanc, 
conducted by J. Tairraz, on the outskirts of the town. 

Here I found Mr. Mathews just come in by the St. 
Bernard route ; but his continued indisposition necessitated 
a postponement of our purposed expeditions into the Cogne 
country. Meanwhile,* therefore, I filled up the time with 
a few excursions in the neighbourhood. One of these led 
Michel and myself up to the top of the Becca di Nona. 
We remained two hours on the summit, registering the 
Alpine Club thermometer, taking observations, and enjoy- 
ing the wondrous view. Looking hence towards the 
Grafi'eneire and the Col du Sonadon, and following the 
line of Carrel's northern panorama, my eye rested beyond 
Valpelline, on the Mont Oele, and the Col de Crete Seche. 
It seemed to me that I could not do better than investi- 
gate those two points ; first, because little was known of 
them, and next, because they were connected with the 
" High Level " route, and would give me an opportunity of 
overlooking a great portion of it, and especially the lower 
part of the Durand glacier. 

In returning from the Becca, we left the ordinary track, 










and struck out one which is probably little known. We 
descended into a lower part of the gorge of the Dard, 
and examined a remarkable group of serrated rocks, run- 


ning out in a thin wedge-like form from the bounding 
ridge on the west side of the valley, at a considerable 
angle, towards the opposite range. At different points 
the rocks assumed the form of detached pillars, each sur- 
mounted with a capital in the shape of a huge stone, 
like a bloc 'percliL One of these capitals very strongly 
resembled the trefoiled head of a churchyard cross. This 
appearance, coupled with neighbouring objects, indicated 
the remains of the moraine of a vast glacier, which. 

doubtless, at one time filled the entire valley, but which, 
by subsequent erosion, had become reduced to the thin 
edge mentioned, and had given place to the gorge of the 
Dard. The whole forms an interesting example of what 
are called natural pillars. 

With the view of examining the Crete Seche and 
Mont Gele, I left Aosta in the afternoon (Aug. 10th), 
taking with me the two Croz' and two days' provisions. 
In a weak moment I was persuaded into taking a trap as 
far as Valpelline, under the vain idea that we should save 
time thereby, and so be enabled to get that night as 
far as Biona. But it was the first time that four wheels 
had ever traversed that road, and they were just twice 
as long a time on the journey as we had been in walking 
the same road when descending from the Col du Sonadon, 
and Michel, who walked, arrived at ValpelHne an hour 
and a half before Jean and I crawled up in the vehicle. 
The driver was an absolute cretin, and his horse seemed 
to share in the deplorable malady, for which this valley 
has such an unenviable notoriety. At timeg, we had to 
lay strong purchase on one side of the crazy vehicle, to 
prevent its disappearing bodily over the little precipices 
at the side of the road, the driver all the time huddled 
up on his seat, as cool as a crevasse, as if upsets were 
included in the hire of the machine, and with that stolid 
look of hopeless indifference peculiar to persons affected 
with cretinism and goitre. At intervals the united efforts 
of the party barely enabled the horse to drag the vehicle 
out of the little " bergschrunds " worn in the road by 
rushing torrents, and to which the wheels clung with a tena- 
city worthy of a better resting-place. Jean was all the time 
furiously sacre-ing ; for, no sooner had he lit his perpetual 
pipe, than he found all his spare breath was required for 
one of these hauling processes. 



Ir < 


Consequently, when we reached Valpelline, we had to 
push on, and walk the two hours up the valley to Oyace 
in one hour and twenty minutes. A viper, darting out 
from the road-side, fell a victim to Jean's remorseless axe; 
but, to his disappointment, he could not get at any of the 
numerous bats which were whizzing round our heads. As 
we wound up the valley, the gorge below Oyace looked very 
grand, increased, as the effect was, by the shades of evening 
giving greater prominence to the bold rock of syenite, on 
which Oyace is picturesquely situated a great height above 
the valley, and forming, in fact, a barrier across it. 

On arriving at the top of the rock, it was quite dark, 
and hopeless to reach Biona, or, indeed, any spot beyond 
Oyace that night ; for there was no inn, and soon it would 
be too late to beg shelter for the night, even at a chalet, 
whose occupants would by that time have retired to rest. 
Hence we decided to stay at Oyace, and set to work to 
hunt up the cure, and get accommodation from him. 
This he readily granted, such as it was, and we of course 
paid him, as usual, when we left the following morning. 
It is far from my wish to express any want of gratitude 
to these worthy men, to whom most people who make 
Alpine expeditions are occasionally indebted for shelter ; 
yet I have great doubts whether the worthy cure or his 
room were the dirtier. I was put to some ingenious 
contrivances to render myself oblivious of the one and 
clear from the other, during the meal, which we made from 
our own stores, and to which we perforce added a quan- 
tity of excellent wine, with which the cure supplied us at 
an almost nominal price. Such a thing as milk was not 
to be obtained in the village ; and, as the cure's establish- 
ment seemed totally innocent of any such effeminate 
indulgence as fuel, all visions of hot coffee before 
leaving on the following morning were quickly dis- 



As I contemplated not only ascending to the Crete 
Seche, but also trying to climb the Oele, and getting back 
to Aosta the same night, it was necessary to start at a 
very early hour in the morning. Thus the first two 
hours, at least, would be before daylight. None of us 
had been here before, and it would be impossible in the 
dark to discover the direction to take for the Crete Seche. 
It was therefore necessary to take a native with us up the 
mountain-slopes until daylight allowed us to judge for our- 
selves. A man was sought out, and we sat in solemn conclave 
over our pipes with the cure examining the native. Very 
little was known of the Crete Seche. He had not crossed 
it, but was familiar with the mountain-slopes for some 
height towards the cattle Alp above, and could take us up 
them in the dark. Of the Gele, nothing whatever was 
known, and its ascent ridiculed as an idea too absurd to 
waste an expression of opinion upon it. 

With this cheering result I retired to the cure's bed. 
I had not seen it, but, judging from other appearances, 
was not particularly disposed to indulge in any anticipa- 
tions of a " bed of roses." I ventured, therefore, delicately 
to hint that I had a particular weakness for hay in the 
cattle-shed ; but he would not hear of it, and thus, not to 
hurt the good man's feelings, I was compelled to manifest 
an extreme gratitude for his consideration in surrendering 
his bed to my use. I marched in smilingly to my doom, 
though the prospect of a long and hard day's work was 
not made more encouraging by the more than probability 
that the two or three hours of previous unrest would 
be devoted to exasperating conflict with ^^ mauvaises 

I pass over the agonies of that night, and hasten to 
mention the extreme delight with which, at 1 a.m., I 
saw Jean enter the little cupboard which the bed and its 

■J I 







hapless victim occupied, and whose roof was too low to 
admit of my alpenstock standing upright. The first ques- 
tion about the weather satisfactorily answered, Jean 
brought some fresh water for ablution. I carefully filled 
therewith the cure's wash-hand basin up to its brim ; and 
so ample were its dimensions that, when I essayed to dip 
my head in it, the water just covered my nose, as I flat- 
tened that useful organ against the bottom of the basin. 
This fact, coupled with a pungent recollection of the cure, 
induced the belief that the worthy man was accustomed to 
save himself all trouble in a morning by simply pointing 
his face at the basin, and persuading himself it was thereby 
washed, much in the same way as that ingenious fellow, 
Pat, does with his herring when he is banqueting upon 
" roots such as the children of Hibernia eat " : — 

Each mouthful of murphy and salt they take, 
They point at the herring, a flavour to make ; 
Thus Pat makes believe he's had herring for dinner : 
The fish lasts many days without getting thinner. 

Our breakfast was necessarily much on a par with this, 
as it comprised an ample quantity of "make-believe." At 
2 A.M. we started. For about a mile we followed the 
valley up towards Biona, and then struck to our left, or 
northwards, up the mountain-slopes. The native who 
accompanied us seemed to consider that, as it was pitch 
dark, it was no use being very nice about the nature of 
the ground, so he took us straight up, stumbling over 
rocks and plunging through streams in the most reckless 
manner. Mr. King, in his " Italian Valleys," alludes to 
existent proofs that this part was once covered with a 
glacier descending from the Crete Seche above, which 
accounts for the roughness of the ground. After two 
hours of this amusement, streaks in the sky heralded the 
approach of dawn, and soon after we were blessed with a 

magnificent sunrise, gilding the peaks of the Grivola and 
Euitor to the south, and of the Mont Faroma and another 
mountain in the chain eastwards, separating the Valpelline 
from the Val Tournanche. Shortly afterwards we stum- 
bled upon the remains of a hut, a station of the ^' pr eposes,'^ 
at a time when contrabandism was more jealously watched 
than it is now. 

At 5 A.M. we began to feel how excessively unsatisfactory 
our breakfast of " make-believes" had been ; and as we had 
now reached the foot of the first snow-slope leading to the 
Col and found water issuing from it, we halted one hour 
for a more substantial meal. At the request of the native, 
we did not adopt our usual plan of shying stones at the 
empty bottles whilst enjoying the post-prandial digestive 
pipe, but left them for him to pick up in returning. A 
series of short snow-slopes, interspersed with rocky climbs, 
and a small half-formed glacier, succeeded. Each group 
of rocks which we surmounted we thought must be the 
Col, but, as usual, we found another set still to be 
mastered. At 7 a.m. we topped the last, and found 
ourselves on some broad flat slabs of rock, forming the 
Col de Crete Seche, 9475 feet high* " 

It was well defined as a Col, for to the west ran up 
a ridge of serrated rocks towards the snow-slopes of 
Mont Grele beyond, whilst to the east a shorter chain 
ended in a slope of the Trouma de Boucs. From our 
feet, northwards, stretched the Griacier de Crete Seche, or 
d'Ayas, bordered on the east by the Trouma de Boucs, 
and on the west by the Pointe d'Ayas, a group of black 
rock, apparently connected with the Gele by an impassable 
arete. Below the bounding ranges the glacier joined the 
magnificent Glacier de Chermontane, or d'Otemma, running 
up, north-east, to an immense distance. On the north side 
of it stood out the Pic d'Otemma. Mr. King rightly con- 




jectured that "this pass must be a noble one, considering 
the splendid view it must afford of the very heart of the 
srlaciers of Chermontane." 

We remained on the Col an hour, examining these 
points of the " High-Level " route, and discussing the best 
■way of attacking the Gele. Seen from here, it presented 
two peaks hanging precipitously over the glacier. Be- 
tween these ran up a magnificent ice couloir, the upper 
part of which was hidden by a projection of the nearest 
peak. At first sight, this couloir seemed to offer a possible, 
though difficult, mode of getting, at any rate, some way 
up the mountain, but on moving farther round towards 
the Trouma, we saw that it became impracticable. The 
only feasible plan appeared to be to follow the ridge to 
the west, ascend thence to the snow-slopes of the Glacier 
de la Balme behind the first peak, and then see if we 
could pass up them to the actual summit. 

Dismissing the native, we started along the rocks; but as 
we were on the side to which the sun had less access, we 
found them so coated with ice that, after some step-cut- 
ting, Michel and I preferred going down to the ice-slope 
at their base, and cutting our way along it. We soon 
had enough of this also, so we descended on to the Glacier 
d'Ayas, though it involved a considerable loss of level ; for, 
after crossing the head of the glacier, we had of course to 
mount the snow-slope again to our former altitude. 
Meanwhile Jean continued along the rocks, sending down 
showers of huge stones, which we had to dodge in the best 
way we could, hurling up meanwhile anathemas at him, 
of which he, of course, took not the slightest notice : he 
certainly had the best of the game. At times we lost sight 
of him, and could not hear the sound of his axe. He had 
got so far that he was obliged to go forwards, and hence, 
notwithstanding our detour, we reached the edge of the 
snow-field of the Glacier de la Balme as soon as he did. 




This we now began to cross, keeping up as much to the 
north of west as we could. Eventually we rounded the 
first peak, and saw there was nothing but a huge crevasse 
cutting us off from the actual summit. This crevasse was 
a long way above, but we ploughed steadily up towards it. 
There was no difficulty : it was simply a grind, the snow 
being deep, and now soft with the sun. On reaching the 
edge of the crevasse or bergschrund, we followed up its 
side until we found a practicable snow-bridge, by which 
we gained its upper lip. A short stiff rise, a few steps 
cut, and we were on the summit of the Mont Gele, 11,539 
feet high, and, as its name implies, a small dome of ice- 
coated snow, wreathed up by the wind into a cornice. 
Twenty feet below us to the east was a group of rocks over- 
hanging the couloir observed from the Col, and supporting 
the edge of the snow-slope, which, breaking away, displayed 
a wondrous ice-cavern, glittering in ethereal blue as the 
melting drops fell from its pendent icicles. On the farther 
side of the couloir was the first seen peak, whilst on the 
Col de Fenetre side, the actual summit on which we were, 
fell off into a ridge, ending in a third and lower peak. 

It was 11 A. M. Scarcely a breath of wind was percep- 
tible, and the sky was without a cloud, and of that intense 
black-blue colour so peculiarly the property of Alpine 
regions. We descended to the rocks, and remained there 
two hours, in enjoyment of the superb view around us. 
Eight in the centre of this wondrous ice-country, and 
of the " High Level " route, as we were, it was indeed a 
glorious scene. On either hand the whole Pennine chain 
from Mont Blanc to Monte Kosa was spread out before us : 
to tell the numberless well-known peaks and points would 
be endless. The Graffeneire appeared different from any 
aspect in which I had previously seen it. Under it lay 
the Durand glacier, which looked quite as practicable, as 





an integral part of the route, as when I had been on its 
head a few days previously. 

Creeping cautiously to the edge of the rocks, they were 
found to be an absolute precipice overhanging the glacier 
below. From it stretched up to the north-east the grand 
Glacier de Chermontane or d'Otemma. Beyond this again 
rose up the Mont Coll on. Mr. Tuckett's previous passage 
of this glacier, as a part of the route, had established the 
fact, that there was no such barrier at its head as the Crete 
a Collon, marked on Studer's map, and the present view 
confirmed the non-existence of such obstruction, or as Mr. 
Cowell calls it, Mr. Tuckett's " slaughtered foe." 

To the south were the Grrivola and other peaks of the 
Graian Alps, and amongst them, to the east, was a giant, 
which I made out to be the Grand Paradis. 

At noon, with a temperature of 12° Cent., or 53° Fahr., 
my black-bulb thermometer rose, after three minutes' ex- 
posure, to 37° Cent., or 98° Fahr. We built up a well of 
stones between two of the huge slabs of rock, and covered 
the aperture with a flat stone, previously depositing therein 
a minimum thermometer, marked " Alpine Club, No. 384," 
together with accompanying bottle and register paper, for 
registry of the thermometer by any future traveller. The 
requisite notice of its position was posted up at Aosta and 
other convenient places. When deposited, the actual 
temperature had risen to 14° Cent., or 57° Fahr. 

That this part of the chain is little known may be 
inferred from the fact, that during the day we saw no 
less than six different groups of chamois, one herd alone 
comprising seven of those graceful animals. Whilst we 
were seated on the rocks, deeply immersed in an attack 
on the contents of the provision knapsack, three chamois 
emerged from below on to the top of the couloir. They 
were not five yards from us when they halted, apparently 



quite unconscious of the presence of their enemy, man. 
It was evident, however, from the nervous motion of eye 
and nostril, that they had already detected all was not 
right. They were quickly satisfied on that head; for, 
before I could restrain Jean and Michel, they were on 
their legs, hurling down huge stones after the chamois 
(now rapidly vanishing down the couloir and rocks), and 
shrieking out yells and whistling, which sounded almost 
unearthly in the hitherto solemn silence around. Talk 
about the excitement of the hunter, sportsman, or gorilla 
capturer — it was nothing to that of these two men at 
finding their favourite game so unexpectedly close to them. 
They acted like madmen, and I was half apprehensive 
that, in their excitement, they would throw themselves over 
the rocks after the chamois, which we shortly afterwards 
saw galloping over the glacier below us, and taking the 
crevasses in the most approved style. 

At 1 P.M. we commenced descending rapidly in a south- 
westwardly direction towards the route to the Col de Fe- 
netre. Traversing the farther side of the snow-field, and 
Glacier de la Balme, up which we had ascended, we had 
an occasional jolly little glissade. The usual rocks, bits of 
glacier, villanous moraine, and mountain-slopes, succeeded. 
At 2.30 P.M. we reached the lower part of the Col de 
Fenetre, and turned round to look at the Mont Gele 
before we left him. This is so well described by Mr. King 
that I must borrow his description. He says, " The 
scenery continually increased in wildness and grandeur. 
On our right, Mont Gele rose almost perpendicularly, like 
the face of a rift pyramid, its summit backed up behind 
by a continuation of the chain, a ridge of savage aiguilles 
stretching down to Valpelline. On a lofty cornice of this 
dark range overhung the glacier of La Balme, at a vast 
height above us, streaming down from behind Mont Gele 

i!1 ? 






and showing its gigantic mass laterally, as it is crushed 
up against the base of the bold aiguilles which rise above 
it. Another small glacier shares part of the same shelf ; 
and the spectacle presented by the two, backed up by the 
black craggy ridge behind, is one of the most singular 
glacier scenes I ever saw. Mont Gele, seen from this 
point, is wonderfully grand, and few of the minor peaks 
of the Pennine range can compare with its unique and 
stately form." And, describing its aspect from the Cher- 
montane side, he adds, " The face is so sheer a descent 
from its cleft summit, that the snow only adheres in 
frosted sheets, scored with the parallel furrows made by 
fallinc^ fragments from above." Professor Forbes also 
speaks of this side of Mont Gele as " almost too steep to 
bear snow, presenting a perfect ridge of pyramidical 
aiguilles, stretching towards Valpelline." 

Putting on the steam, we passed the little lake and the 
chalets de la Balme, joined our former route from the 
Col du Sonadon, passed through Ollomont and Valpelline, 
and taking the lower road reached Aosta at 7.10 f.m. At 
Valpelline the natives expressed themselves much delighted 
at our success and safe return, and I left Jean and Michel 
honouring the event with the usual potations. 

On reaching Aosta, I was glad to find Mr. Mathews 
sufficiently recovered to attack the Graian Alps, which we 
accordingly did the following morning. 




By Sir T. Fowell Buxton, Bart, M.A. 

There are probably few Swiss travellers who have Hot 
lamented over the length, the tediousness, the heat, and 
the dust of the long, dreary valley of the Ehone from 
Martigny to Visp, and who have not yearned after some 
more interesting route between Chamounix and Zermatt. 
With these feelings strong within us, our party, consisting 
of Mr. J. J. Cowell, my brother Mr. Edward Buxton, and 
myself, had designed to employ part of a short tour, in 
1861, in the working out of a route between these two 
places that would take us as nearly as possible along the 
main chain of the Alps. Circumstances, however, com- 
pelled us to curtail our plan by that portion of it which 
lies between Chamounix and the Val des Bac^nes. 

My brother, who had just ascended Mont Blanc from the 
Aiguille de Goute, having met us at Sixt, with us crossed 
the Mont Buet to Martigny, and reached Chables on the 
10th of August. Monday evening, August 12th, found us 
busy preparing a bivouac on the side of the Glacier de 
Corbassiere, whither we returned on Tuesday, after an 
unsuccessful attempt on the highest or S. W. peak of the 
Grand Combin, or Graffeniere. Our failure was partly 
owing to the discouraging nature of our guide, old 
Bernard Trolliet. His passion for giving up any 
undertaking when about three parts accomplished 

VOL. I. T 



amounted to an absolute monomania ; though I must add 
that he is a careful and attentive man, with a good head 
for remembering places that he has once visited, while his 
profession of chamois hunting has given him considerable 
experience of the neighbouring mountains. However, we 
were not satisfied in having him as our only local guide. 
Another misfortune befel us in the illness of our Cha- 
mounix porter, and we had only our well-tried and faithful 
Michel Payot, of Pes Bossons, on whom we could depend. 
Wednesday, however, saw the difficulties cleared away. 
Mr. Cowell descended the valley to Chables in search of 
certain creature comforts and other desiderata, among 
which a new porter or two were indispensable, while my 
brother and I proceeded to the chalet of Chermontane, 
a large stone cabin, which contained some dozen shaggy 
bergers. The next morning we sauntered up to the 
Mont Avril* (11,490 ft.), which well deserves the good 
character for ease of ascent and magnificence of view 
given it by Mr. W. Mathews in his paper in the former 
series of " Peaks, Passes, and Glaciers." From near the 
top of the Col de Fenetre we observed a change in the 
glacier that is worthy of being recorded. Professor Forbes 
speaks of the glacier that descends from the Col de 
Fenetre as one of the great arms of the Glacier de Cher- 
montane; but last year, as far as we can remember, it 
failed to meet it by an interval of about 200 or 300 yards. 
Now, Mr. Mathews speaks of the Chermontane Glacier as 
advancing and ploughing up the pastures in front of it. f 
Here, therefore, is a remarkable instance of two glaciers 
close together, the one advancing and the other retreating. 

* The heights giyen are calculated from my own observations on the 
temperature of boiling water, compared with the barometrical observations 
at St. Bernard. 

t " Peaks, Passes, and Glaciers," 5th edit. p. 72. 



As this glacier is on the way from the chalet to the Col, 
we hope it will receive the attention of future wanderers 
in the Val des Bagnes. 

On descending to the chalet we indulged in a bathe 
in a bright stream that leapt in a string of tiny waterfalls 
down the flanks of Mont Avril, and then turned our 
thoughts to dinner. Near the chalet, and under an over- 
hanging rock, there resided an old sow, who did her best 
to get fat on whatever might remain after butter, cheese, 
seracs, and other dainties of chalet life had been ex- 
tracted from the milk of the herd. She was the happy 
mother of a large family of sucking pigs, so small that at 
first we thought them too infantine for the pot; their 
youthful curiosity, however, led them to examine us with 
an unpleasant degree of familiarity, an impertinence, on 
their part, that soon excited us to the chase. Then our 
opinion of their strength rose rapidly; we found them 
to be gifted with most extraordinary locomotive powers. 
Uphill or downhill, over rock or grass, they were for some 
time a match for us all ; surely, selection, whether natural 
or artificial, never caused a greater difference than that 
between those piglings and their distant cousins who 
annually exhibit their fat sides in Baker-street. But the 
" struggle for existence " was in this case also to end in 
favour of man. Our efforts were centred upon the 
fils aine, the biggest of the lot ; and havi»g run him 'down, 
and pronounced him sufficiently muscular for the food of 
man, we handed him over to the tender mercies of Payot, 
who proceeded to prepare him with all due fomality for our 
dinner. An hour later, and Cowell arrived. Much success 
had attended his arrangements ; but the best of all was that 
he had engaged two capital young porters at Lourtiers, 
Justin and Louis Fellay, who continued with us for some 
days, and proved themselves in the highest degree active 

T 2 



and attentive. As night closed in we entered the chalet, 
and betook oui'selves to that end of it which had been 
given up to us. The bergers had grouped themselves 
round the crackling wood fire near the door, and were 
gently stirring the contents of the huge maimiite. The 
portable soup and the little pig were soon ready, and 
while one log formed our table, and two more our chairs, 
we enjoyed one of those extra-pleasant hours which often 
stand out prominently from among the recollections of 
travelling adventures. Of course we had much to talk 
about : we discussed old Trolliet, and agreed to get 
rid of him, entrusting that delicate task to Cowell, who 
performed it to the admiration of all, with the exception, 
perhaps, of the subject of it — Trolliet himself. Then the 
prospects of the morrow, and the chances of a successful 
ascent of the proposed pass, were discussed. My curiosity 
concerning it had been chiefly excited by allusions made 
by Professor Forbes, in his " Tour of Mont Blanc," to the 
possibility of a pass over the head of the Glacier de 
Chermontane. From both ends he speaks of it as worthy 
of examination. The chief difficulty to be anticipated 
was a mythical ridge of rocks called Crete a Collon. This 
appears in Studer's map to run right across the head of the 
glacier, and to form a barrier between the upper neves 
of the Vuibez and Chermontane glaciers* It had the 
character of being quite impassable ; but^ as that easily- 
spoken epithet is recklessly applied to every place that 
has not received the honour of a trial, we were not dis- 
heartened at hearing it so freely used. Our chief source 
of encouragement arose from the information contained 
in two letters from Mr. Tuckett, who had a few weeks 
before discovered a pass from Chermontane to Prerayen. 
He had not, however, been to the summit level of the 
glacier, and we could not but place a certain amount of 



unwilling confidence in old Trolliet, who insisted on the 
reality of the Crete a Collon, and who painted in the 
blackest colours the dangers to which we should be 
exposed without him. However, we were determined to 
try it, even without his aid ; so we cut short all further 
debate by calling Payot, and with him completing the 
preparations for a start on the morrow. It was still 
early when each, with his knapsack for a pillow, laid him- 
self down in the black hay at one end of the cabin, while 
round the fire at the other the hergers kept up to a 
late hour, singing a wild sort of song, the burden of which 
was the might and the glory of the great Napoleon, It was 
strange, as we lay in that desolate cabin, with the sky 
above scarcely hidden by the stony roof, to find that the 
storms of European politics of half a century ago left their 
echoes still reverberating in that distant valley. 

In spite of their songs and the draughts that played 
merrily through the frequent interstices of the stone walls, 
we enjoyed a fair amount of sleep ; and at about 2 a.m. the 
next morning were stirred up by Payot, who was busy making 
the fire and preparing to boil the chocolate. The diffifculty 
of making a rapid start is one of the most provoking 
parts of Alpine travel, and is greatly increased when 
various extras, too hard or too bulky to keep in the pocket 
at night, have a tendency to secrete themselves in the hay. 
These causes of delay were, unhappily, not wanting on this 
the morning of the 16th of August; but at last, at about 
3 A.M., we found ourselves fairly under weigh. The morn- 
ing was fine, but cold ; the moon had set, and the stars 
hardly gave sufficient light to assist us. We had a 
lantern which was intended to combine all the advantages 
and none of the disadvantaofes of others of its kind ; but 
just as we neared the moraine of the glacier, where it was 
chiefly wanted, it suddenly went out, and left us to 





blunder over the loose stones, and slippery mud-covered 
ice, as best we might. WTien the moraine was fairly left, 
and the clean ice was beneath our feet, we at once had 
amply sufficient light, and soon eDJoyed the oft-described 
charms of an Alpine sunrise. After awhile we were forced 
by large and frequently recurring crevasses to the south 
side of the glacier, abutting on the Mont Gele, and for 
about half an hour had to take some care in threadino* our 
way through the intricacies of the broken ice. The 
excitement, however, was far from unpleasant, and tended 
to keep out the cold of the frosty air. We next came to 
smooth ice, which, however, was crossed at regular intervals 
by long straight crevasses, just too broad for a jump, and 
which extended almost entirely across the glacier. These 
caused some delay, but were at last left behind, and we 
entered upon as smooth and easy a surface of ice as could 
well be found. The glacier at this point curves round to- 
wards the north-east, and we therefore bore away to the 
northern bank of the stream. The exceedinof ease of our 
route left us now at leisure to enjoy the scene around, 
which was one of great grandeur. The view towards the 
lower end of the glacier was shut in by the steep cliffs of 
the Mont Gele and Mont Avril. The northern wall of the 
glacier, which is the base of the Pic d'Otemma, is too 
steep for any ice, with the exception of here and there a 
small secondary glacier, but the southern side was a 
source of continual enjoyment; it was composed of a 
succession of headlands, the bays being filled by mao-- 
nificent lateral glaciers, many of which exhibited cliffs of 
white neve, scarred by avalanches and crossed by fissures 
of every size and form. To us, however, the most 
interesting side was that in front, where the constantly 
retreating line of the glacier's horizon still kept us in 
doubt of what we were to find when we reached the top* 



Was that gently-rising slope to be cut off by steep preci- 
pices ? If so, were those precipices practicable ? Or was 
the whole story of the Crete a myth ? These were the 
questions that the day was to answer — this the doubt 
that gave a sense of adventure and added largely to our 
enjoyment. At 6 o'clock we halted for breakfast. We 
had now reached the neve, and, having laid down a strict 
rule, always to use the rope immediately on reaching neve, 
however easy and smooth it might lookj we proceeded to 
rope ourselves together. We had, at Cow^ll's suggestion, 
adopted a plan which greatly facilitated that often trouble- 
some operation ; every one of us had a piece of cord, four or 
five feet long, tied round his waist, with the ends left dangling 
at the side. In the long rope we had tied a succession of 
loops, to which each man could tie himself far more expedi- 
tiously than when the main rope has to be adjusted round 
the waist of each in succession.* 

At a quarter to 7 a.m. we started again; the snow 
was in first-rate condition, and we made rapid progress. 
The doubt concerning the Crete a Collon still hung over 
us ; for, as we continued to ascend, a ridge of rocks and ice 
came clearly into view, and looked so near, that for some 
time we could not but believe that it rose out of the head 
of the glacier which we were ascending. We were so 
entirely convinced that it did represent the Crete, that we 
at last began to consider which of the gaps we should aim 
at first. It is, perhaps, of but little use to inquire into 
the origin of popular delusions ; but if it is permissible to do 
so, surely this appearance that now deceived us is very 
likely to have strengthened, if not to have originated, thi^ 
old and mischievous bugbear. However this may be, ws 
continued to believe that the barrier in front had to be 

* The mode of roping together adopted by the guides in the Ober 
Engadiu is described at page 166. 




crossed, till we had nearly reached the summit level of the 
glacier, when we found that in reality it lay two or three 
miles away on the opposite or eastern side of the Arolla 
glacier. Nothing could be of a more opposite character 
to the expected Crete than the scene that now received us. 
Before us stretched an extensive plateau of snow, so level 
as to make it difficult to decide which was the hio-hest 
point, and yet we were at such a height that we saw to 
the left the Weisshorn, and to the right some of the 
mountains of the Valpelline, including possibly the Pic de 
Zardezan, lying close against the southern shoulder of Mont 

Here at 9 A. m. the guides threw down their knapsacks 
and nearly an hour was consumed in observing the height 
(10,417 feet), and taking the bearinors of the neio-hbourino- 
Peaks. This last operation was necessary to enable us to 
correct our maps, which for the mountains and valleys 
around were far from accurate.* We were highly gratified 
at having traversed in six hours the whole length of the 
glacier, and at having still before us the best part of a 
brilliant day for dealing with any difficulties that mio-ht 
yet turn up. By the map, the direct route should lie 
down the Vuibez glacier, enough of which was seen to 
show us that it was much steeper and more difficult than 
that by which we had come. About half an hour's walk 
brought us to the first crevasses ; and now we observed 
immediately on our left a gap through the ridge to the 
north, of which more presently. 

The character of the glacier had now completely 
changed ; at every step of our onward progress, it was 
becoming steeper and more orevassed. We were, in fact, 

* We had not the new sheet No. 22 of the Federal map by Dufoiir, 
which has only just been published, and which wiU supersede aU former 
ones. The maps which illustrate this route are based upon Dufour. 



on the edge of the ice cascade that forms so noble a fea- 
ture in the view from the eastern side of the Arolla 
glacier. This, however, we could not yet see ; and though 
appearances were against us we determined to descend as far 
as the state of the ice would permit, in order to reconnoitre 
the middle and eastern parts of the glacier. The axe was in 
continual use; but at last our further descent was cutoff at 
the end of a promontory of ice, enclosed between two yawn- 
ing crevasses. A halt was now called, while telescopes and 
glasses were energetically brought into play to assist in 
examining the rocks on both sides for the chance of finding" 
them practicable ; but never were crags more black and 
frowning, especially those which defend the base of Mont 
Collon, from the very top of which they seem to fall in 
sheer precipices. The ice, too, was carefully scanned, but 
every imaginary route that we tried to work out came to 
grief in a maze of crevasses, or at the ed^re of towerinor 

Among other magnificent sights, none excited more 
interest than the surface of the Arolla Glacier, straight 
down upon which we were now looking. It exhibited by 
far the most beautiful arrangements of dirtbands that I 
have ever seen. We examined them most carefully, both 
then, and from the other side on the following day, and 
came to the conclusion that they certainly owed their 
existence to the causes explained by Professor Tyndall.f 
They can only be seen on that portion of the stream which 
flows from the cascade of the Vuibez Glacier, and are 

* The next day we still more accurately examined the fall from the 
mountains opposite, and came to the conclusion that tlie descent, at all 
events, would have been extremely dangerous. It must be remembered, 
however, that the spring of 1861 was remarkably hot in the Alps, and, 
therefore, all ice falls more than usually difficult, so that what was true for 
that year need not be so in ordinary seasons. 

t " Glaciers of the Alps," p. 370. 



incomparably more distinct than those of the Mer de 
Glace ; perhaps because the former falls far more abruptly 
than the latter, and its successive terraces are more clearly 
defined. However, but a short delay was allowed for 
looking about us when the right-about-face was given, and 
we retreated towards the gap on the north, already al- 
luded to ; intending, if that proved impracticable, to make 
another effort on the eastern side of the Vuibez, and 
knowing that, at the worst, our early start had left us 
ample time for reaching the chalets of Chermontane. The 
ascent to the gap, about 250 feet, was rather rough, over 
very loose stones, and a secondary glacier. The first part 
was very steep, and required some care on the part of those 
in front to prevent the big stones from falling down on 
those behind. Having surmounted the steeper part, we 
turned sharply to the right, where the neve meets the 
rocks up which we had just climbed. Then a rapid slope, 
up which we have curved to the left, brought us to the top 
of the ridge (10,348ft.), just two hours after leaving our 
halting-place on the highest part of the glacier. The 
prospect that now opened before us was most encourag- 
ing. From the ridge on which we stood the extensive 
Glacier of Piece flowed down as far as we could see 
towards the valley, which joins the Combe de I'Arolla, 
whose bright green meadows and tiny chalets were clearly 
seen, while the horizon was shut in by the noble peaks of 
the Weisshorn and the distant Oberland. To the south 
the view was yet grander ; the intensely white snow fields 
shining out in contrast with the bold black precipices of 
Mont Collon, and the sun's midday rays glancing from 
couloirs of ice, as from plates of frosted silver ; while 
through the blue haze of Italy appeared many a distant 

It was a position, which for interest and grandeur of 



scenery can be rivalled by few; and which, moreover, 
had taken us only nine hours to reach, including an hour- 
and-a-half of rest, and nearly two hours wasted in search- 
ing for a passage down the Vuibez glacier. An hour-and- 
a-quarter were spent at this place in the enjoyment of the 
view, and another application to our provision bags. While 
my companions clambered up a peak on the right, to gain 
a better view of the glacier before us, I boiled a ther- 
mometer, and compared our maps with the panorama of 
valley and mountains around. On their return, we set up 
a minimum thermometer on a ledge facing the north, 
about twenty yards to the west of the point where the 
ridge sinks below the ice. This done, we proceeded again, 
roped together, sometimes running, and sometimes glis- 
sading at a rapid rate down the steep slopes. According 
to the observation from the peak, the left side of the 
glacier offered the best route ; but several difficulties yet 
awaited us. In spite of axes, which were freely used, we 
had, more than once, to return and cut out a path else- 
where. At one part, where the ice was much broken, our 
route lay alongside a cliff, the radiation from which had 
hollowed out a sort of chimney, where, with one hand 
on ice and the other on rock, we found good practice for 
our climbing powers. At last, the moraine was reached 
and surmounted, and then an extraordinary scene of de- 
solate rocks displayed itself to our view. It was a perfect 
wilderness of moraines ; six in all lay side by side, while 
in the midst was the white stream of the Otemma 
(Studer) or Cijorenove (Federal map) glacier far below us. 
Here we sat down for a few minutes, and, should any 
future wanderer care to examine the rocks, his search 
may, perchance, be rewarded by a pair of green spectacles 
which my brother left behind him. A steady descent of 
thirty minutes brought us to the base of the moraine, a 


second and ancient one of the Otemma succeeded, and 
lastly, the modern one led to the ice itself — here about 
200 yards broad. This glacier shows unmistakable signs 
of havinof suffered unusual diminution. Its northern 
flank is defended by three mighty ramparts, the outer- 
most of which is well clothed with grass and junipers, 
while the second is less so, and the youngest has hardly 
commenced grassing on its outer side. It would present 
a fine position for a botanist curious to examine the 
comparative powers of plants for dispersing themselves 
over fresh ground. Along the base of the last moraine 
there flows a most refreshing stream, cleansed to brilliant 
transparency, by filtering through the moraines. The 
descent for the last hour, in the broiling sun, had been 
dusty and hot in the extreme, and here was an opportunity 
not to be wasted ; so, about 3 p.m., while the rest of the 
party proceeded up the opposite side of the valley, to a 
large dairy establishment, I luxuriated in a delicious 
bathe, and then threw myself on the soft grass and 
watched a light-hearted water-ousel as it flitted merrily 
from rock to rock. The others had intended to return, 
but, after waiting for them souie time, I sauntered up 
the grassy slope, guided towards the chalet by the tink- 
ling of the many bells of the herd. There I found them 
reclined at length, having sacrificed the bathe to the 
grosser luxuries of huge bowls of clotted cream and bread, 
in which I eagerly joined them. The chalet was a large 
one, and offered prospects at least of a good floor of 
hay ; but there was also a whole family of women and 
children, whose company we did not covet, and, as there 
yet remained some hours of daylight, we followed the 
advice of the owner of the Alp, and descended to the 
valley. He carried a plentiful supply of milk and butter, 
and led us to his own chalet, about half-a-mile from the 



lower end of the Arolla glacier. A large basin of port- 
able soup and the remnants of the little pig were ready 
about sunset, and we retired early to rest in a w^ell-filled 
hay-loft ; and thus completed one of the most interesting 
and enjoyable of our Alpine excursions. 

On the following day we crossed the Col de Collon, and, 
being en route for Zermatt, had our attention strongly 
drawn to a snowy Col on the KE. side of the Pic de 
Zardezan, at the head of that branch of the Arolla 
glacier that flows from the east-. Sunday^ the 18th, was 
spent in the neighbourhood of Prarayen, and on Monday 
we crossed to Zermatt, by the Col de Valpelline. Having 
climbed the cliff of rock, loose stones, and snow, at the 
head of the Grlacier de Zardezan, we again observed a 
depression through the ridge that runs north from the 
Pic de Zardezan. Should this correspond with the Col 
seen from the other side, it would connect the Col de Val- 
pelline with the Col de Collon, and thus the Combe de 
I'Arolla could be reached from Zermatt in about the 
same time as Prerayen. To this, or a somewhat similar 
direct communication between the Combe de I'Arolla 
and Zermatt, the following allusion in FrobePs volume* 
would appear to refer. After describing the Alp and 
chalets of Arolla, he repeats tlie statements of the chief 
herdsman, or " Pdtor," as to several points connected with 
the topography of the district, and then proceeds as fol- 
lows : *' The * Trois Couronnes ' are the most remote 
{i,e, southerly) summits of the sharp rocky ridge which 
separates the valley of Arolla from that of the Ferpecle 
Grlacier. By traversing the elevated valley which follows 
the direction of the lower portion of the great Arolla 
Grlacier, it is possible to cross behind this chain to the 

* " Reise in die weniger bekaunten Thaler auf der Nordseite der Penni^ 
nischen Alpen." Berlin, 1840 ; Reimer. 


summit of the Glacier de Ferpecle at the western foot of 
the Dent d'Erron (Dent d'Herens or d'Erin), and passing 
round to the north of that peak, reach Zermatfc without 
ascending a mountain range. This, the Pator distinctly- 
asserted, but with the remark that it was not very easy 
of accomplishment (* man nicht gut dahin wuvde 
cjehen konnen^y* It is to be hoped that the point will 
be thoroughly cleared up before long, by actual examina- 
tion, and I hand it over to lovers of topography and 
mountaineering, as amongst the agenda of the coming 



By F. F. Tuckett, F.R.G.S. 

Those who are bewailing the all but universal invasion 
of the railroad with its attendant evils — tourists, long 
bills, and formality— will be prepared duly to appreciate 
every still undisturbed nook and corner ; and for this, if 
for no other reason, I feel that I may claim some attention 
for the little known and utterly unspoilt Valpelline. 

Seen by the passing traveller as he descends the southern 
slopes of the St. Bernard, close to Aosta, and only re- 
moved by a few leagues, rocky and snowy ones, it is true, 
from Zermatt, Evolena, the Val de Bagnes, or the Val 
Tournanche, the Valpelline yet enjoys a singular immunity 
from tourists, owing partly to the one wretchedly bad 
road by which alone it is approachable from the south, 
and partly to a reputation for savageness and inhospitality, 
not perhaps wholly undeserved, as far as the commissariat 
is concerned. Even under this head, however, there is 
the notable exception of milk, cheese, and honey, whilst 
nowhere have I met with a heartier welcome or more 
genuine kindness. The accounts of the district hitherto 
published are pretty much confined to the interesting 
descriptions in Professor Forbes' " Travels in the Alps " 

* This excursion, similarly to the one narrated by Mr. Hardy, was made 
from East to West. — Ed. 


(1st edition, page 272, et seq.), and Chapters VII. and VIII. 
of the Rev. S. \V. King's " Italian Valleys of the Pennine 
Alps," to which I must refer those who are desirous of 
detailed information, my object being merely to offer a 
few notes on chalet life, with a brief description of one of 
the links in the recently-forged chain of passes counecting 
Zermatt with Chamounix. Prerayen at the head of the 
valley, and not Aosta, must thus be our point of 

Placed though the chalets of Prerayen are, at a height 
of between 6000 and 7000 feet*, and apparently in a 
cul de sac, several interesting passes radiate from them as 
a centre. Commencing from the S., the Pas de Revomea, 
of which I know nothing, connects them with the Val 
St. Barthelemy, and more to the E. the Col du Mont 
Corniere leads in six hours into the Val Tournanche. 
Next, at the head of the valley, we have the magnificent 
Col de la Valpelline (11,700 feet) establishing a communi- 
cation with Zermatt in twelve hours, whilst a slight devia- 
tion to the N. will take the traveller, in about the same 
time, to Evolena, either by the Col des Bouquetins 
(11,214 feet) between the peak of the same name and the 
Tete Blanche, or by the Col de la Valpelline and ovet the 
ridge (11,900?) E. of the Tete Blanche, in either case 
descending by the Ferpecle Glacier. Directly N. lies the 
Col de Collon (10,269 feet), a grand pass also leading, in 
ten or eleven hours, into the Eringerthal, and lastly, just 
to the W. of it, the Reuse de I'Arolla (10,500 feet?), of 
which more presently, completes the lines of communica- 
tion by opening up a direct route in six to eight hours to 
the Val de Bagnes. In addition to all these passes 
centering at Prerayen itself, there are two others leading 
into the Val St. Barthelemy, the Passage de Montagnaja 

♦ 6588, Forbes; 6752, Joanne; 6648, Tuckett. 



opposite the hamlet of Puillay, and the Col de Vesoney*, 
from Oyace, and yet two more into the Val de Bagnes, 
the Crete Seche (9475 feet) from Biona and the Col de 
Fenetre (9141 feet), from Valpelline. Few valleys, there- 
fore, can boast more varied means of ingress or egress. 

Let no one who has heard the statement of Professor 
Forbes, that the establishment at Prerayen formerly be- 
longed to the Jesuits of Aosta, picture to himself a sort of 
Piedmontese Grrande Chartreuse, but let him bring wdth 
him contentment, a good appetite, and fine weather, and 
I venture to engage that he will not be disappointed, 
especially if he include in the expedition one of the three 
or four first-class passes just enumerated. Here I first 
graduated in the great mysteries of milk and its trans- 
mutations, and if, as was my case, the traveller is com- 
pelled, by stormy weather, to spend a day or two in the 
neighbourhood, he may here study in perfection the 
economy of chalet life. 

My acquaintance with the Valpelline in general, and 
Prerayen in particular, dates from 1856. Quitting Aosta 
on the afternoon of June 14th, we had reached Biona the 
same evening, making a pleasant call in passing on my 
friends M. and Mme. Ansermin of Aosta, who have a 
summer residence at Valpelline. The cure of Biona 
kindly provided quarters for my companion, Mr. J. H. Fox, 
and myself, as well as for our guide, Victor Tairraz, whose 
previous expedition with Professors Forbes and Studer, 
had familiarised him with the district. The next day was 
Sunday, and as rain was falling in torrents we gladly 
accepted our host's invitation to remain till the afternoon. 
Having engaged a fine-looking, strong, honest fellow, one 
Ambroise Barrailler, as porter, we strolled up to the chalets 
before dark, with the intention of crossing the Col de 

* King's " Italian Valleys of the Pennine Alps," pp. 184-196. 
VOL. I. U 






Collon the following day. The 16th, however, proved 
hopelessly stormy, rain streamed down in bucketsful, and 
fresh snow lay on the adjacent summits at a very low 
level. Appearances were little, if at all, better on the 
17th ; but once or twice in the course of the day the clouds 
showed some signs of lifting, and we took advantage of 
the lull to reconnoitre the Zardezan Glacier with reference 
to the practicability of effecting a passage to Zermatt in 
that direction. The flying scud, however, defeated our 
object, the upper portion of the glacier being only dis- 
tinoiiishable at intervals. At last things took a turn, and 
on the morning of the 18th we effected a start, but even 
then were doomed to be caught in a blinding snow-storm 
on gaining the crest of the Col de Collon — not the 
pleasant est place for such companionship — and were in- 
volved in no little perplexity before getting clear of the 
Arolla Glacier. 

In two days' stay, there was, of course, plenty of time 
to spare. After sundry efforts to indulge in the noble 
sport of shooting at mannots with a rusty old gun, the 
lock of which had long ceased to be on speaking terms 
with the barrel, a bold attempt to extemporise cricket, for 
which the only existing materials were an axe and a 
supply of pine logs, and the successful construction of a 
draught-board out of a piece of blotting-paper, with 
blocks of black bread, and squares of cheese for the men, 
we were finally reduced to the systematic study of the all- 
pervading, all-absorbing milk. 

To those who are not familiar with the process of Alpine 
cheese-making, a few notes jotted down upon the spot 
may not be unacceptable, and the more so as I hope to 
direct attention to one preparation which seems to have 
. very generally escaped notice, and thus claim the honour 
due to him who enriches the world with a dish. The 

chalets and the surrounding alp of Prerayen were 
purchased by the then proprietor for 28,000 francs. He 
let them out to the actual occupier at a rental of 1200 
francs, and had only to keep the buildings in habitable 
condition and supply the larger utensils. Our host, the 
tenant, received about 3800 francs for the cheese, butter, 
and milk, and after paying all expenses, including the 
hire for three months of a large proportion of the cows, 
the salary of his assistants, and a certain fixed sum to him- 
self, the amount of which I could not ascertain, netted 
ordinarily about 200 francs " benefice,''^ 

And now, let me conduct my readers along the pleasant 
path of daily routine, a true via ladea, which it was our 
privilege to follow during our temporary detention. At 
6 A.M., and again about the same hour in the afternoon, 
the herd was driven into the long shed, at right angles to 
the main building, and soon that pleasantest of sounds, the 
musical patter of the milky jets in the frothing pails, fell 
on the ear in tinkling cadence. Then one after another 
the lads would issue forth with their brimminof vessels, 
and making for the chalet, pour the contents into the 
'' maivmite,^' a large copper vessel or cauldron, holding 
from twenty to fifty gallons, according to the size of the 
establishment, and hung upon a sort of movable wooden 
crane, which can be swung round over the fire, or moved 
aside as required. Pail follows pail in rapid succession, 
till the whole produce is collected, and into it is then put 
a mixture (" la caille ") composed of ''petit lait " (the 
residue after the cheese has been removed) and rennet to 
curdle it. It is next churned with a stick furnished eii 
fricandeau, with a series of projections like the spikes 
popularly supposed to be appropriate to giant Maul's club, 
and a separation of the " first curds " or " caillet " is the 

u 2 






By this time the mixture has begun to lose its natural 
heat, and is therefore put for a short time over a moderate 
fire, till it has again acquired rather more than its original 
temperature. The warmth of the fire coagulates the curds 
into a mass which is finally extracted by dipping a large 
cloth beneath it, and after wringing out the contained 
milk, the white, flabby, rather uninteresting-looking cheese 
is consigned to a press for further condensing and left to 
take care of itself. The residue in the cauldron is "petit 
laity pi-emiere qualite^^' and it is with this that we are 
principally concerned since here are the materials for the 
compound whose merits I wish to introduce to a larger 
circle of connoisseurs. More fuel is added and a lively 
fire maintained. Active ebullition soon takes place, and 
the ^^ petit laiV^ which had previously assumed a slightly 
yellow tinge, becomes extremely white on the surface. 
At this stage a moderate quantity of fresh milk is added 
which has the efifect of still further increasing the extreme 
purity of the seething mass as it bubbles and swells 
up. The surface is then skimmed off and under the 
names, varying with the locality, of " brousse,'" " hrosse,'' 
" la fleur^'' or " les fleurettes,'" is eaten by the herdsmen. 
I may be prejudiced, but let those who are strangers to 
this exquisite preparation test its merits for themselves, 
and if they do not own that it is the most refined embodi- 
ment of cow, a perfect liquid pastoral or spiritualised 
bucolic, then do I greatly fear that there is no such thing 
left as simple unvitiated taste. Kicher than milk, yet 
lighter than cream, I may perhaps best compare it to the 
crumb of bread that has been soaked for some time in hot 
milk in a covered vessel, and I know of nothing more 
delicious than a brimming wooden bowl of it fresh from 
the marmite, and mth pieces of bread shred into it. But 
we must not forget that we have still to trace the further 

transformations of the contents of the cauldron. The next 
step is to pour into it a sour liquid (composed of " le 
second petit lait,^^ in which some beans tied up in a piece 
of sacking have been placed, together with certain herbs, 
such as sorrel, cress, &c.), adding a small quantity of 
water. This produces ^'seracs^' and the '^second petit 
laity^ a watery liquid usually given to the cows. If the 
" seracs " are poor, and the " second petit lait " conse- 
quently richer, or rather, less " maigre,'^ than usual, a very 
dry and inferior cheese, a sort of china clay " made easy," is 
extracted from the latter, just as the original cheese was 
from the ''premier petit lait.'' If butter is to be made, 
the cream is removed and churned, and the remaining 
skimmed milk converted into an inferior species of cheese, 
"hrousse,'' and ''seroycs,'' by a similar process to that 
already described. " Seracs " are not to be despised when 
quite fresh, though inferior in richness and delicacy to 
" hrousse,'" 

Our stay at Prerayen also familiarised us with the use 
of polenta, the flavour of marmot (anything but a despi- 
cable dish, by the bye), and the mysteries of the game of 
*'morra," which our hosts incessantly resorted to for 
amusement; and when I state that after two days and 
three nights' board and lodging for four persons (the 
former indeed helped out by certain supplies obtained 
from Biona), with the free use of the premises, the old 
Berger, on being presented with a good plain English 
knife, value fifteenpence, absolutely refused all further 
compensation, and only after an obstinate resistance at 
length accepted ten francs, it will at least be conceded 
that we might have made a less profitable investment 
both of time and money. 

With such reminiscences of Prerayen I had looked for- 
ward with pleasure to revisiting it at some future time. 


■I . 




and Mr. Jacomb having in 1860 effected a passage thence 
to Zermatt, by the Glaciers of Zardezan and Zmutt, I took 
advantage of a fine day in 1861, and reversing his route, 
crossed the Col de la Valpelline from E. to W., and at 
2 P.M. on the 25th of June, after about twelve hours' walk, 
found myself once more in my old quarters at Prerayen, in 
company with Messrs. C. H. and \V. F, Fox, the well-known 
J. J. Bennen of Laax, and cheery, steady, Peter Perm of 
Zermatt. Halting first at the upper chalets where we had 
taken up our quarters in 1856, we found them as yet un- 
occupied ; but cows were visible lower down the valley, and 
thus all uncertainty as to the alp being tenanted was at 
once agreeably dispelled. Another quarter of an hour and 
we were in the midst of all the sounds, sights, and smells of 
pastoral life, and received from the head herdsman (not 
my friend of former times) a hearty welcome, and per- 
mission to make ourselves at home. We at once installed 
ourselves on a grassy knoll, where, discarding boots, and 
spreading out our wet socks to dry, we revelled in the 
warm sunshine and refreshing breeze. The next hour 
passed in a series of introductions unsolicited on our part, 
to almost every member of the dairy establishment, num- 
bering upwards of a hundred cows and calves, and nearly 
as many goats, who insisted upon becoming personally 
acquainted with us and our belongings. Thus, in friendly 
though mute greetings, free libations of delicious milk, 
discussion of plans, and the examination of maps and 
instruments, time flew rapidly by, and my companions, 
delighted with this their first experience of genuine chalet 
life, helped me to do nothing with the most persevering 


It had been our intention to cross the Col de Collon, 
partially to descend the Glacier d'Arolla on the northern 
side of the pass, and then, striking off to the left up the 



Vuibez Glacier, force a passage over the so-called Crete a 
Collon, and gain the head of the Val de Bagnes by the 
Glacier of Chermontane or Otemma. An inspection of 
Studer's map, however, showed a small glacier called the 
Keuse de TArolla, {Reuse having probably the same 
signification as Ruise or glacier) coming down a little to 
the S.W. of Mount Collon, and occupying in fact the N. 
W. angle of the Combe d'Oren, just at the point where, 
turning to the eastwards, it runs up towards the Col de 
Collon. To those going northward from Prerayen the 
Reuse de I'Arolla ought therefore to be visible immedi- 
ately in front at the head of the Combe, but so faint 
was Studer's indication that I confess I felt some doubt 
whether it was a glacier at all. The question was 
of importance, as, if a passage could be effected in 
this quarter to the upper portion of either the Chermon- 
tane or Vuibez Glacier, the long detour by the Col de 
Collon would be avoided. Accordingly between 5 and 
6 P.M. we started, on a tour of observation, for the Combe 
d'Oren, and it was with that thrill of pleasure which 
the genuine explorer must always feel at the solution of 
some knotty topographical question, that, as we topped the 
steep ascent from the chalets, the accuracy of the map 
was at once established. There was the glacier with an 
apparent col at its head, and though the torn and riven 
mass of ice appeared to descend too precipitously at its 
lower extremity to admit of an attack in front, the rocks on 
its left or eastern bank seemed to offer the means of 
gaining the more level plateau above.* 

* Professor Forbes (" Travels in the Alps," 1st edit. p. 278) describing 
his departure for the Col de Collon, has clearly seized on the typographical 
relations of this district. He says, " We passed some wretched shepherds 
huts, and following an impetuous stream, we came to the foot ot a glacier 
descending on our left, which has blockaded the valley with its prodigious 
moraine, and left a marshy flat above. This passed, we kept to our right 

( I 



"Well satisfied with the result of our stroll, we returned 
to the chalets, where we found no less a person than the 
Syndic of Valpelline, just starting with a mule for the 
lower part of the valley. Here was another piece of good 
fortune, as we should otherwise have had to enofaofe 
some one to carry our knapsacks to Valpelline and deposit 
them at M. Ansermin's ; but our new friend willingly 
undertook the commission for a " consideration " by no 
means proportional to his local dignity. Having been astir 
since midnight, prudence counselled an early retreat to 
the hayloft ; but the brousse was irresistible, and though 
not yet prepared, would certainly be ready in " un 
petit quart cVheure'' This "quart cVheure'' proved a 
good hour, but we were not to be balked of our feast, 
and so it was not till nine o'clock that we wished our 
friends good night, and provided with a bucket of milk, a 
tin case of ground coffee, and a supply of firewood, 
proceeded to our night-quarters at the upper chalet. 
Some further time was spent in arranging everything 
for an early start in the morning, but at length about 9.30 
we all turned in upon our hay, and slept as best we 
could One hour, however, gained in the morning, is 
worth two later in the day, and at 1.45 A.M. of the 26tli 
we were again stirring. The moon shone brilliantly, and 
everything boded well, as far as weather was concerned. 
We at once set to work to prepare breakfast, and I shall 
not soon forget the lighting of the fire, preparatory to 

hand, having in front of us another great glacier which descends from the 
Col de Collon, and ynore to the left a great and steep glacier which appears 
to descend from the group of mountains connected with the origin of the Glacier 
de Chermontane." This last is the Reuse de I'Arolla of Studer's map, 
■which I may here remark gives a better idea of the terrain than the recently 
published sheet (Blatt 22) of the great Federal Survey, owing probably to 
the fact that lying S. of the Swiss frontier, the engineera bestowed less care 
on it 



brewing some hot tea and coffee, which are always such an 
excellent preliminary to an early start. The wood would 
not catch, and, to make matters worse, just as I had 
coaxed a baby flame into being, one of the party in an 
excess of zeal and enthusiasm heaped upon the poor strug- 
gling innocent a mass of dry hay, whereupon the spirit of 
the flame summoned the spirit of smoke, and the little 
kitchen was soon filled with dense and pungent fumes. 
All but Bennen and I fled, and at length even he was 
compelled to beat a retreat as his eyes are naturally rather 
weak. I stuck to my post, however, with streaming eyes, 
and sooty face, and was at length rewarded by complete 
success. A bucket of hot milk and coffee was soon 
disposed of; and with the inner man much comforted, we 
started for Chermontane, in glorious moonlight, at three 
o'clock, just as the first faint indications of daylight were 
stealing over the loftier summits. 

As our progress for the first hour or two was devoid of 
incident, and the way was along the usual path leading up 
the Combe d'Oren to the Col de Collon, I will not dwell 
upon it here. Suffice it to say that about half-past four we 
found ourselves at the foot of the steep moraine bounding 
the lower part of the Reuse de I'Arolla on the E., and 
proceeding straight up it parallel to, and at a short distance 
only from, the ice, soon reached the base of the ridge of 
rocks over which we hoped to gain the upper plateau of 
the glacier. These presented no difficulty, but there was 
just enough of excitement in the scramble to warm us, and 
render a halt on the summit at 5.45 a.m. a very pleasant 
arrangement. The provision-sack was opened, and in 
brilliant sunshine, beneath a cloudless sky, and with 
appetites sharpened by exercise and the frosty morning 
air, we established ourselves beside a sparkling runnel of 
delicious water, and feasted right royally. 


i ■ 








Soon after six we were once more under weigh, and in a 
few minutes entered upon the upper plateau of the glacier. 
The snow was in excellent order, frozen hard ; our progress 
was rapid, and after three quarters of an hour of gentle 
ascent we stood at the foot of a second rocky ridge, rather 
precipitous though of no great height, which alone separated 
us from the col. The climb was a sharp one for a few 
minutes, and a good deal of loosely attached snow, which 
gave way when trodden on, was just sufficiently trouble- 
some to add to the intere.«»t. We encountered, however, 
no serious obstacle, and at seven o'clock stood upon the 
summit of the Reuse de I'Arolla. 

Before us, to the N., opened out a very extensive and 
most magnificent glacier basin, from which we were sepa- 
rated by a steepish snow wall, traversed by an ugly-looking 
bergschrund. Almost immediately in front was a peak 
which appeared to correspond with the Pigno de I'Arolla 
(12,471 feet), whilst right and left a gap of great width 
occurred in the eastern and western boundaries of the 
basin. We could not clearly identify the Mont Collon 
(S.W. peak 12,264 ; N. peak 11,956 feet), but it must 
have been at no great distance to our right in a north- 
easterly direction, though probably concealed by an inter- 
vening ridge. It was quite clear that our course would 
lie round to the left, through the western gap already 
alluded to, and beyond which, relying on Studer, I ex- 
pected to find the "Crete a Collon." Guided by the 
same authority, backed in this instance by general report, 
my first hasty but natural conclusion was, that we were 
looking on the upper plateau or neve of the Yuibez 
Glacier, which doubtless discharged itself through the 
eastern gap, and was bounded to the W. by the *' Crete " 
itself. A more attentive examination, however, showed 
that the glacier intersecting and fed by the basin, con- 



tinned to rise to the E., clearly pointing to the conclusion 
that it must discharge itself in an opposite or westerly 
direction. But in this case, what was the nature of the 
mysterious Crete a Collon ? It could not be a ridge, or it 
would bar the downward progress of the ice, but it might 
possibly be an impassable cataract of seracs, bordered by 
rocks so precipitous that descent would be impossible. A 
very short time would, however, solve the question, and 
if forced to beat a retreat, we had plenty of daylight 
before us ; so doubts were at once dismissed, eggs, bread, 
and honey produced, and a mountain sympiesometer by 
Casella set up for an observation. There is an evident 
error in the reading of this instrument, but availing 
myself of a correction obtained on the previous day, I 
have reason to believe that the height of the Col is not 
less than 10,500 feet. 

At 7.50 A.M., all carefully roped together, we com- 
menced the descent ; but having cut our way to the upper 
edge of the bergschrund, it appeared to be impracticable, 
at least at the point we had reached, and we had there- 
fore to work our way along it for some distance to the 
right. A snow-bridge was, however, discovered, the pas- 
sage was easily effected, and we were soon running rapidly 
down the lateral glacier, which descends from the ridge 
we had quitted and joins at right angles the trunk stream, 
whose eastern and western branches we were opening up 
at every step. At length we stood at the edge of the 
main glacier, here covered with snow, and in a moment 
all our doubts were dispelled, as the broad expanse of the 
Otemma or Chermontane Glacier was seen stretching away 
E. and W. for many a mile before us. In the former 
direction, it rose for perhaps a mile to what was clearly 
also the summit-level or ice-shed of the Vuibez Glacier, 
as has since been proved by Sir T. Fowell Buxton's party. 

1 . 








To the W. an immense ice-stream, innocent of any such 
abomination as the Crete, sloped gently but grandly down- 
wards, the noble mass of the Grand Combin rising above 
the northern boundary of its lower extremity. This was 
indeed a pleasant surprise. The " Crete " had long been 
a bugbear, and it was with no little satisfaction that I was 
able to establish its mythical character. It may perhaps 
be asked what could have led to the report of its existence, 
and the following are the only suggestions I can offer. — 
It will be seen, both by Studer's and the more recent 
Federal map, that the course of the Otemma or Cher mon- 
tane Grlacier is a curve whose convexity is turned to the S., 
the direction changing from S.W. in the upper portion, to 
nearly N.W. towards the lower extremity. Now, to a 
person looking up it from the head of the Val de Bagnes, 
the rocky ridge which forms the western boundary of the 
Col de la Reuse de I'Arolla, and juts out at right angles 
towards the trunk glacier, appears to extend across the 
latter, and certainly does look very precipitous and for- 
bidding ; just as from the pathway to the Flegere the 
mass of the Tacul and the Grandes Jorasses appears to 
bar further progress up the Mer de Glace, till, on attain- 
ing a greater elevation, the western gap is disclosed, 
through which the affluent of the Geant descends. The 
information which my friend Mr. Mathews received from 
Bernard Trolliet*, if not absolutely devoid of foundation, 
must either have referred to one of the lateral summits. 

♦ "As for the Glacier de Cherraontane, the head of it was absolutely 
* barred ; ' he had once followed a chamois to the top of the Pic d'Otemma, 
and examined the Crete a Collon, and, wemight take his word for it, we 
could not get across. I do not consider TroUiet's opinion as absolutely 
decisive against the Crete a Collon, and I shall certainly attempt it if ever 
I again visit this locality. A place must be actually tried before it can be 
pronounced impassable." (See " Peaks, Passes, and Glaciers," 1st series, 
1st edit. p. 104.) 



such as that just alluded to, or may have been only in- 
tended to apply to the descent of the Glacier de Vuibez 
on the other side, which the Buxtons and Cowell found so 
formidable, that they took to the rocks in preference, and 
got down into the Eringerthal further to the N. by the 
Glaciers of Piece and Cijorenove (the Otemma of Studer's 

I know few more magnificent ice-streams than this of 
the Chermontane, fed by numerous lateral tributaries 
and bounded by noble summits, of which the principal 
are the Pic d'Oteimma (11,513 feet) and Pigno de I'Arolla 
(12,471 feet), on the N., and the Trunima de Boucs 
(11,149 feet), and Mont Gele (1 1,539 feet) on the S., whilst 
to the W., across the head of the Val de Bagnes, rise the 
Grand Combin (14,164 feet), and Mont Avril (10,961 
feet), faced in the opposite direction by the Mont Collon 
(12,264 and 11,956 feet). Its breadth averages three- 
quarters of a mile, and its length, according to the Federal 
map, and judging from the time it took us to descend its 
gently-inclined and uniform surface, cannot be less than 
six miles. Our progress was necessarily slow, as the snow 
which lay deeply on the upper and central portions was, 
even at this early hour, thoroughly softened and saturated 
with moisture, and the intense heat of the sun's rays pro- 
duced a drowsy sensation difficult to shake off. Bennen, 
who had been unable to sleep much in the hayloft, was 
once or twice so overcome as to lose all consciousness and 
flounder about in the most ludicrous manner, but a few 
sniffs of aromatic vinegar soon roused him again, and he 
joined heartily in the laugh against himself. At 9.50 a.m., 
having reached a bare patch of ice, we halted for lunch, 
after which Bennen and Perm indulged in a nap, whilst 
we made notes and looked about. Up to this time the 
day had been brilliant, but now various unmistakable. 

I t 

! \ 






movements amongst masses of cloud that sailed up from the 
S. and W., showed that a change was impending, so rousing 
our sleeping companions, we proceeded on our way a little 
before eleven. Nothing worthy of note occurred till we 
reached the brow of the ice-cascade at the lower extremity 
of the glacier, where it became a question which side we 
should select for the descent. We finally decided on the 
right or N. bank; and quitting the ice at the S.W. 
foot of the Pic d'Otemma, scrambled down the rocks 
to the lower and level portion of the glacier, which we 
crossed diagonally to the foot of the Col de Fenetre. For 
those who intend to descend the Val de Bagnes, this is 
undoubtedly the best course, but if the Fenetre de Cher- 
montane be the traveller's aim, let him keep down the S* 
side where the ice is least crevassed, and join the route 
from the Col de Crete Seche, rather to the N.W. of the 
Trumma de Boucs, and beneath the slopes of Mont Gele. 
We were not previously aware of this, and lost at least 
half an hour in forcing a passage through some ugly 
seracs, and then down the rocks on the N. side. 

It was 7.50 A.M. when we quitted the Col, and the level 
of the valley at the foot of the Col de Fenetre was reached 
at 12.35 P.M., but more than an hour had been devoted 
to our halt, and nearly another was consumed in crossing 
the bergschrund, and reconnoitring the ice-fall, which 
would reduce the actual walking-time to rather less than 
three hours. 

It had been our intention to take up our quarters in 
the highest available chalets of the Val des Bagnes, and at- 
tempt in the morning the passage of the Glacier de Durand, 
which has since been effected by the Kev. J. F. Hardy ; 
but, as already stated, the weather had belied the promise 
of the morning, clouds were hurrying up the valley, and 
4,he Grand Combin, shrouding its head in mists, disclosed 

ony black, frowning precipices, looming like some gi- 
gantic fortification through the momentarily increasing 
obscurity. Eain soon began to fall ; it was only too 
evident that we were going to have dirty weather, and 
there was every appearance of a disturbance of some days' 
duration. Under such circumstances, the head of the Val 
de Bagnes, to which the cattle had not yet mounted, was 
not perhaps the most agreeable spot that could be selected, 
especially when, by way of contrast, at only a few hours' 
distance, the comfortable Hotel du INIont Blanc at Aosta, 
looked irresistibly tempting. A short consultation was 
held, and Southward Ho ! was the unanimous vote. 

After ascending the lower slopes of the Col de Fenetre, 
we halted at 1.45 p.m. to dine; but thick driving rain 
coming on, we broke up our encampment, and at 2.30 
again pushed forward, reaching the crest of the pass 
(9141 feet) at 3, and the chalets of Ollomont on the 
southern side at 4.15. By this time we were in rather 
a dripping condition, the rain came down in streams, and 
peal after peal of thunder rattled amongst the hills. One 
of my companions proposed that we should halt here for 
the night, but the place was so draughty and crowded, and 
we were so wet, with no means of changing, whilst dry 
clothes awaited us at Yalpelline, that he most good- 
humou redly gave in when I urged that we should pro- 
bably meet with some sort of conveyance to take us down 
to Aosta, and at any rate were quite sure of a hospitable 
reception from Mme. Ansermin, if we could get no further 
that night. So, after a sort of stirrup-cup, or rather 
parting bowl, of hrousse, and a chat over the fire, we 
sallied forth to do battle with the storm. 

Every little stream, ordinarily meek and retiring, was 
now swollen with rage and bursting its banks with pride ; 
cascades leaped down from every rock, little plots of 

I fi 






meadow became bogs, and the rain appeared at times to 
descend in sheets. Still on we went, running the gauntlet 
of streams, bogs, and water, there being nothing for it but 
to proceed. At length, as we reached the lower level of 
the beautiful valley, there were signs of a lift in the thick, 
murky pall that hung over us, and by the time we reached 
Valpelline, at 6.30, the rain had ceased entirely. 

We soon found our knapsacks, and ferreted out a cart 
with one mule in which the owner offered to convey us to 
Aosta, — vehicle, beast, and road permitting. Meanwhile, 
we took advantage of the time occupied in harnessing, to 
call on Madame Ansermin, Of course she was the same 
kind, motherly, hospitable lady, whom all who have the 
pleasure of her acquaintance must at once recall on the 
mention of her name, and all sorts of hearty offers of help 
in any and every way were at once pressed upon us. We, 
however, declined to aceept the proffered quarters for the 
night, greatly to Madame s vexation ; but at length compro- 
mised matters by saying we would gladly be allowed the 
use of a room to change our wet clothes in, and then come 
and have a glass of wine with her. Well ! as we liked ; if 
we would not do as she wished and stay the night, we 
should have our own way, but we must try to come back 
and see her again. On reappearing in our clean outfit, 
a huge light sponge-cake, as large as a tea-tray, was set 
before us, together with wine, honey, cheese, and bread 
in abundance, and we were literally crammed with eatables 
and drinkables, our kind hostess standing by and filling 
up every pause in eating or drinking with a fresh slice or 
" encwe une goutte seulemenV^ At length, but not without 
great difficulty, we tore ourselves away, and at eight en- 
tered our nondescript rattletrap. I was sorry to find that 
its size was so limited as to render it ^o^btful whether 
Bennen and Perm could get seats; but as we were not 

likely to exceed a foot-pace, they gallantly insisted on walk- 
ing, and were rewarded by having much the best of it. 

Of our ride my descriptive powers are utterly inade- 
quate to give the faintest idea. The mule was slow, the cart 
small and springless, the road little better than a track, 
and all three of us feeling desperately sleepy after two 
short nights. C, who sat at the tail, soon began to doze, 
and for some time his ludicrous contortions kept W. and 
me in such a perpetual state of laughter that, as long as 
daylight lasted, we managed to keep awake. During the 
first half hour, he lost his hat three times ; and to prevent 
his following it in person, we had to buckle him up to the 
seat with a leather strap. At length our turn came, and 
after many ineffectual struggles, I found myself flat on the 
bottom of our vehicle with my knees up to my chin, whilst 
W.'s head and body had disappeared somewhere in the 
region of the mule's tail, his legs only still bearing mine 
company. At this stage I became utterly oblivious ; and 
when I next roused, discovered to my surprise that I was 
alone. I learnt afterwards that the tremendous jolting 
had proved too much for my companions, and that they 
had accordingly proceeded on foot, basely leaving me to 
my fate, and speculating as to what my condition would 
be if I ever should happen to turn up at Aosta. A 
little after eleven, however, I made my appearance ; and 
never was change more welcome than when I stepped from 
the instrument of torture and sat down to some hot coffee 
and gressins in the salle-a-momger of my old friend, Jean 


f ' ■ 




\ ; 



VOL. I. 






By Frederick William Jacomb. 

Up to the time of the discovery of this Col, travellers 
passing from Zermatt to Aosta had two routes open to 
them. The first was by the St. Theodule Pass and Val 
Toumanche, with an alternative course (after crossing the 
St. Theodule) from the Val Toumanche over the inter- 
vening ridge, westwards, into the Valpelline — in either 
case a long way round. The second was by the Col d'Erin 
to Evolena, and thence, in a second long day's work, 
either by the Col de Collon or by the Col du Mont 
Kouge, the Valpelline, This route was frequently pre- 
ferred, as it afforded two fine glacier expeditions. It 
involved, however, a long detour- — along the two sides of 
the triangle, instead of the direct line by its base. 

In the course of a series of expeditions, principally 
around Zermatt, in the season of 1860, during the earlier 
portion of which I was accompanied by my friend Mr. 
John Fisher, of St. John's College, Cambridge, I had been 
struck with the manifest indirectness of these routes to the 
Valpelline. It seemed to me that, if a passage could be 
made direct to Prerayen along the base of the triangle, 
and in one day instead of two, not only would the facility 
of access to the Chamounix district be sensibly improved, 
but the first link in the chain of an entirely new route 
satisfactorily forged. 


'■, « 








Accordingly, when crossing the Col d'Erin, I had ex- 
amined with the glass, as narrowly as was then practicable, 
the ice-fall and snow-field to the south of the Tete 
Blanche, and leading up towards the Col which I proposed 
opening out, and they did not seem to me to present 
insuperable difficulties. What obstacles might exist on the 
further side, in the snow-fields of the Zardezan glacier, it 
was impossible to foresee ; for, being untrodden, nothing 
was known of them. Professor Forbes, in his *' Travels 
through the Alps," says, in reference to this district, " It is, 
perhaps, only in this part of the Alps that such a pro- 
digious extent of comparative table-lands of snow are to be 
found at such an elevation." It occurred to me, however, 
that, if I could attain some high point in the chain running 
southwards from the Matterhorn and the Dent d'Erin (or 
Dent d'Herens, though Studer's map calls it Dent de Kong), 
I should be able to see somewhat of the Zardezan side of 
the contemplated Col, and be better enabled to judge of 
the nature and direction of the glacier and snow-fields 
which I should have to traverse, and of the practicability 
of effecting a passage. 

In order to carry out this idea, I proposed, after crossing 
the St. Theodule Pass to Breuil, in the Val Tournanche, to 
go thence, over the chain, between that valley and the 
Valpelline, to Prerayen, ascending en route the mountain 
known as the Chateau des Dames. This chain and moun- 
tain are alluded to both by Mr. King, in his "Italian 
Valleys of the Alps," and by M. Le Chanoin Carrel, of 
Aosta, in his " Panorama of the Alps." Mr. King men- 
tions a report of the existence of a pass between Breuil 
and Prerayen, but adds that it is steep and difficult, and 
that he could gain no information about it, save that it 
passes under Mont Corniere, and round the flank of the 
Chateau des Daraes. The mountain he describes, as he 

X 2 



saw it from Breuil, as " one of the loftiest points in the 
ridge, and a smooth dome of snow, out of which rise some 
singular bare rocks ; and they certainly had a remarkable 
resemblance to ladies marching up the snow to an Alpine 
castle ;" whence it is supposed the name arose. M. Carrel 
describes the mountain thus:— '' Cette gracieuse sommite 
bai-t^e a Vest, la vallee de Bionaz. Elle est entre Us heads 
pdturages des clmlets de Praraye, au sommet de dite vcdlee, 
et ceux des Volpiglies a Valtornanche. R en descend de 
beaux et hruyants glaciers ;" and in a subsequent passage 
he again testifies to its grandeur, by alluding to its glaciers 
as the source of the impetuous river Buthier. In the 
panoramic view of the chain attached to his book, the 
mountain, grand though I certainly found it to be, assumes, 
I think, a greater prominence than is justly its due. This 
I was enabled, I believe, satisfactorily to explain to him 
during the season of 1861, when, in a singular rencontre, 
I made the acquaintance of this eminent mountaineer, 
litt&i'ateur^ and scientific investigator. 

Professor Forbes also, whilst not mentioning the Chateau 
itself, alludes to the lofty chain of mountains forming this 
ridcre "over which he afterwards learned that a passage 
might be effected, though not without difficulty." At the 
time, however, of the expedition which I am now describ- 
incr, I was unaware of the remarks of himself, of Mr. 
King, or of M. Carrel, on the subject, and had been simply 
led to the selection of this mountain as the base of my 
operations, from having seen it in the panoramic view. 
The description given by those gentlemen is, however, so 
accurate, that I regret that the absence of all previous 
knowledge of their observations, deprived me of so much 
additional pleasure in attacking the mountain. 

I crossed the St. Theodule Pass on the 10th August, 
1860, taking with me Joliann Kronig of Zermatt, who. 



with Peter Taugwald of the same place, and Franz Ander- 
matten of Saas, had shared in my expeditions of that 
season. We fought our way over the Theodule in a heavy 
snow-storm and one of those bitterly cold north winds 
for which the Monte Kosa district has such an unenviable 
notoriety. On reaching the comfortable inn at Breuil, I 
inquired if there were any passage across the ridge to 
Prerayen by which I might approach the Chateau des 
Dames, so as to ascend it en route, I learnt that there was 
a Col, called the Courgnier, and that its track passed near 
the Chateau, but that it was very rarely used. Hence 
there was an additional reason for now crossing it ; for, be- 
sides its contributing to the main object of the expedition 
— the new passage to Zermatt — it would enable me to 
see something of a district but little known. As to the 
Chateau, I was informed that it had never been ascended 
— was inaccessible — madness to attempt it — and so forth. 
The old, old story. Of course, the fact of its not having 
been previously ascended was quite sufficient to decide any 
Alpine explorer to attack it, so I immediately asked for an 
additional porter. Kronig and I had sufficient reliance on 
each other, from former wanderings, not to care for further 
assistance in merely trying a mountain like this. There 
was, however, no accommodation then at Prerayen, at 
which place it would be necessary to pass the night in hay. 
We must also be prepared to camp out, if required, further 
on ; and we must take with us provisions for the three 
days which would doubtless be occupied in getting to 
Prerayen, and thence effecting the pass to Zermatt. An 
additional pair of legs to carry the provender, &c., was 
therefore not a choice, but a necessity. Only one native 
presented himself; but neither from his appearance, nor 
from the examination to which he was subjected, was I 
satisfied with his general qualifications. He professed to 




know something of the Col Courgnier, and assured us that 
we should obtain at Prerayen milk, cheese, butter, bread, 
and perhaps an egg or two ; but inasmuch as those luxuries 
were not forthcoming when we arrived here, and as he 
led us wrong in descending the Col, I have great doubts 
whether he had ever previously been across. Eventually, 
as will be seen, he proved worse than useless,— indeed, a 
positive encumbrance, for he, of course, consumed his 
share of the provisions, of which we afterwards stood 
much in need. We were, however, in the onset, in happy 
ignorance that he possessed these additional qualifications 
as a guide. Disencouraging as his examination had proved, 
we concluded he might at any rate be useful in carrying 
the provisions, and, as no one else would undertake 
the expedition, I was compelled to take him, despite 
my doubts. As a warning to future travellers, I 
gibbet him, by adding that his name was Maquigney 
Gabriel, or Gabriel Maquigney, if we discard the plan 
usually adopted in the Alps of inverting the Christian and 


At 5 A.M. the following day, August 11th, we started 
from Breuil in splendid weather, and in the enjoyment of 
a glorious view of the Matterhorn, Dent d'Erin, Breithorn, 
and other peaks around. Descending the valley towards 
Val Tournanche for a mile or so, we crossed the stream, 
and ascended the slopes bordering its western side towards 
a gap in the bounding mountains. Turning the gap, we 
entered a kind of basin, from which ran a valley down the 
chain southwards, and, in fact, dividing it into two parallel 
ranges. Winding round the head of this basin, on the 
north, we crossed the further ridge, and, keeping high up 
under its edge, came to a group of rocks at the foot of the 
Chateau des Dames. At this point we halted for the 
usual second breakfast, and, leaving there the rest of oiu- 


baggage, save a provision knapsack, which we retained for 
use on the top, we ascended straight up a steep snow-slope 
forming the base of the mountain, and in a north-east 
direction. A strongly-defined track in the snow was 
shortly explained by five chamois bounding from the 
rocks at the further side of the slope, within easy shot, 
and passing up before us. It was a tolerably good proof 
that the course which we were taking would enable us to 
get at least some height up the mountain, however we 
might afterwards fail to attain its peak. 

On reaching the top of the slope, we found that a line 
of serrated rocks ran up northwards towards the head of 
the mountain, which was, however, concealed by inter- 
vening crags. Just as we topped the ridge, our friends, 
the chamois, who had been evidently waiting for us to 
follow them up, galloped down a snow-field to the east, 
and were soon out of sight. We ploughed up another 
slope, where the fresh fallen snow lay very deep, owing to 
the storm of the previous day, and the bad weather, for 
which the season 'of 1860 in the Alps will be long re- 
membered, causing, as it did, the failure of so many 
expeditions. The toil inflicted by the depth of snow was, 
of course, now very much increased by the softening 
influence of the sun's rays, and we were continually plung- 
ing forwards into the usual little crevasses. The slope led 
us^'to some rocks above, very loose and jpoums, through, 
under, and over which we wound for a long time, always 
steeply ascending. We hoped that each little peak which 
we attacked would be the last, but invariably found 
another rising beyond. At times we encountered parts 
which we could not climb. In such cases we had to 
descend to the steep and dangerous ice-slope below, and 
cut our way along, with the axe, as close to the rocks 
as possible, for, a few yards lower down, the slope fell off 




very sharply, and ended in a precipice. In one of these 
little interludes we had a foreshadowing of our fate if we 
slipped too far ; I missed my footing, and, in the effort to 
recover myself, my alpenstock, tried companion of many 
glorious Alpine expeditions, escaped from my grasp and 
slid away. At the prospect of its loss I could not refrain 
from uttering a mild exclamation. This, in the solemn 
stillness around, seemed somewhat unearthly, and so 
startled Gabriel, who was creeping up below us in an 
agony of fright, that he thought it the correct thing to 
follow suit with a loud cry, which very nearly destroyed 
the precarious balance afforded by his tottering limbs, in 
which case he would have toppled over after the alpen- 
stock. To my intense delight, it buried itself in a little 
snow hummock below, which its weight did not disturb, 
but which would not have stayed our destruction if slipping 
down. In order to recover the priceless friend, and at 
the same time infuse into Gabriel a little of that con- 
fidence and pluck which was becoming necessary, we 
carefully let him down to the hummock by means of the 
rope. Cautiously he grasped the alpenstock, and we 
hauled him up in triumph. Shortly afterwards, one of 
those real dangers of Alpine exploration, a falling rock, 
whizzed close past my head in a highly unpleasant manner. 
At length the rocks ended, and we gladly saw the top 
of the mountain not very high above us. But we found 
ourselves separated from it by one of those awkward 
places called an arete blanche, a ridge of snow, just broad 
enough for the foot, with a frightfully steep slope down- 
wards on one hand, and, on the other, a precipice of 
untold depth. Over this, the ridge, wreathed up by the 
wind, hangs in a narrow ledge or cornice, through which 
the traveller may drive the alpenstock, and see space 
below as he walks along. These are the places which 



frequently stop explorations if the wind is up : a sudden 
puff might shift the centre of gravity. Fortunately the 
day was magnificent, and scarcely a breath of air stirring ; 
so, with care, we eventually got along the arete^ and up 
a short snow-slope beyond. It landed us on the top of the 
Chateau des Dames, consisting of a little ridge of rock, 
on which the snow could not hold, but appeared to be 
wasted away almost as fast as it fell; we collected its 
melting drops to mix with our wine. But, first, we feasted 
on the splendid scene around us, increased as the enjoy- 
ment of it was by the pleasure which Alpine explorers 
feel on attaining the summit of a high mountain. Owing 
to its central position, the mountain commanded an exten- 
sive view, especially westwards, in which direction the eye 
enfiladed a line of snowy peaks, for nearly fifty miles 
away, towards Mont Blanc himself. Amongst these were 
the Velan and Graffeneire; and nearer the Mont Gele, 
Otemma, Arolla, Collon, and others, of which little was 
then known. To the south, near at hand, rose out from 
the ridge a snowy cone, probably the JNIont Gele referred 
to by Mr. King. It was, of course, not the Mont Gele just 
mentioned, in the main chain, on the further side of the 
Valpelline, and the ascent of which has been described. 

But our principal satisfaction consisted in the fact, that 
the position, as expected, afforded us a view over the mor- 
row's work. Eight in front of us, towards the north, 
stretched up from Prerayen the great and unknown 
Zardezan glacier, hemmed in on the west by an almost 
unbroken line of precipices extending from the Pointe de 
Zardezan to the Dents des Bouquetins, whilst on the east 
several huge glaciers from the Dent d'Erin streamed into 
the Zardezan at right angles. Far away up the glacier we 
could see a tremendous ice-fall and system of crevasses, 
which made it more than doubtful whether we could force 


the passage in that direction on to the snow-field beyond, 
leading to the Col by which I hoped to reach Zermatt. 
The east side of the ice-fall was bounded by a mass of 
rocks, interspersed with couloirs and snow-slopes, and the 
height of our position enabled us to see so far up these, 
that we conceived we might scale these rocks to the neve 
above, if the ice-cliffs in the glacier proved impracticable. 
All these points were carefully noted. In assailing new 
gi-ound, it is obvious that the chances of success are in- 
creased by a previous recognisance ; and though it is not 
every one who would ascend a high peak for such a purpose, 
yet the wisdom of that course was now plainly apparent, 
and became more so when on the glacier itself the follow- 
ing day. The object contemplated in hunting up and 
ascending the vantage ground upon which we now stood 
had, therefore, been perfectly successful. We had no 
efficient apparatus with which to ascertain the exact 
height of the peak, and could only make a rough estimate 
that it was something less than 12,000 feet. 

The provision knapsack now claimed attention. The 
empty bottles were sent spinning over the crest of the 
mountain, and then, having been an hour on the summit, 
we prepared to descend. As a previously unascended 
mountain, I of course knocked from off its highest rock, 
and carefully bagged, this actual " top." We piled up 
the loose stones into a homme des pieires, or cairn, as a 
hint to any future traveller who might attain the peak 
that man had been there before him. Taking a last look 
around, we commenced a careful descent, for until we had 
recrossed the arete, and got down the rocks, our progress 
was necessarily slow. This was safely accomplished, and 
succeeded by some of those delightful glissades, to attain 
five minutes of which is worth hours of previous toil up 
steep snow-slopes. One of them wajs peculiar : a previous 



glissade had landed us on a little ledge of snow, doubtless 
caused by some protruding rock. From the edge of this 
ledge the slope again fell off, but so sharply in its upper 
portion that it seemed hazardous to attempt a glissade 
down it. Lower down a mass of ugly rocks was waiting 
to receive us, if, as seemed probable, the rapidity of the 
descent either toppled us headlong down directly we started, 
or prevented our stopping ourselves in time on the less 
inclined part below. Kronig peered over the brink, 
evidently calculating these chances. Then, as if half 
ashamed at hesitating at anything in such a successful 
day, he uttered a wild jodel, dropped over the cornice, 
and shot to the bottom of the slope. He planted himself 
firmly above the rocks, so as to check me if I tumbled 
over, or came down too fast. The place looked ugly ; but 
I had no notion of being beaten, especially just after re- 
moving a mountain from the unascended list. So I shot 
down also, and brought myself up safely a few feet above 
him; but it required all my effort, and my good alpenstock 
bent almost into the form of a sickle under the heavy 
strain. Kronig gave a grunt of satisfaction, and we then 
set to work laughing at Gabriel, who shook his head 
at the shoot, and crept slowly down by the rocks. He 
descended very slowly, and seemed too frightened to trust 
himself to more than an occasional sliding step. We were 
frequently obliged to wait for him. Sometimes, losing 
his balance and footing, he came down rather more 
quickly than he intended, in that undignified attitude 
peculiar to the inexperienced glissader ; when he reached 
us, we used, under pretence of checking his mad career, 
to dig him in the ribs with our alpenstocks, and provoke 
from him thereby divers exclamations of anything but 
delight. I became more than ever convinced of the 
absurdity of his calling himself a guide. 


By the time that we had reached the rocks where our 
baggage lay cache, the sun had become so powerful that 
I was glad enough to creep under the partial shade 
offered by a rock, whilst the men repacked and re- 
freshed again. Winding up amongst rocks and snow- 
patches, and finally a softened slope, we gained the 
top of the Col Courgnier, about 9500 feet high, and 
descended its further side by glissades, towards a gorge in 
the ridge, down which we were to pass to Prerayen. But 
we were not yet at the bottom. Gabriel, who professed to 
have been this way before, insisted on keeping high up, 
whilst we wanted to descend at once. The result was that 
we fell into a maze of difficulties in getting down, which 
our route would have avoided. Eventually we reached 
the gorge, and wound down it to the cattle Alp below. 
To this succeeded the usual forest; we beat through a 
tangled mass of underwood at its edge, and emerged into 
the Valpelline at a point about a mile below the solitary 
and highest chalet of Prerayen. 

Crossing the torrent from the Zardezan glacier above, we 
quickly made our way to this chalet, passing en route two 
or three others seemingly deserted, and the smallest of 
chapels. It is a not uninteresting fact, that in these 
valleys, however few the chalets around, there is generally 
a small chapel where service is performed, though at long 
intervals. The passage of this Col Courgnier, or Col du 
Mont Corniere, need not occupy more than five to six 
hours ; this is of course directly, and without diverging 
for the ascent of the Chateau des Dames. 

Gabriel had assured us of accommodation, though in- 
different, at this chalet. To our great annoyance the place 
was locked and barred ; there was not even a dog about. 
The herdsman was evidently up on some Alp with his 
cattle. Fortunately the door of the hay-loft over the cow- 



house was open. I took off my wet boots, lit my pipe, 
and lay down in the hay, whilst the men unpacked the 
provisions. The meal over, I despatched Kronig and 
Gabriel, in different directions, to reconnoitre for the 
herdsman, whilst I strolled up a little hill standing out in 
the valley. But no signs of the Alp, cattle, or herdsman 
could I see. The hill was surmounted by a rude wooden 
cross, part of which had fallen. 

'- ''^'^ 


Looking down the valley, 1 watched the shades of evening 
deepen into twilight, and then into darkness. A pictur- 
esque gorge terminated the view in this direction. Behind 
the hill, up the valley, a jutting slope shut out the end of 
the Zardezan glacier. To the north-west, lay the gap 
leading to the Col de Collon and Evolena, whilst on the 


opposite side, the actual peak of our Chateau des Dames 
was concealed by a nearer though lower summit 

Descending to the chalet, I found the guides returned 
without any tidings. Matters looked awkward. We had 
relied on finding here milk, bread, butter, and cheese, at 
least, to eke out our provisions, and we had therefore 
dipped largely into our stores. It seemed likely we should 
be on short commons the following day, when, in an untried 
expedition, we might require more food than usual. We 
had calculated on adding some hot milk to the coffee 
which we had brought with us for the evening meal, before 
retiring to the hay for the night ; we must cut off this 
luxury, and tumble into our quarters at once, like primi- 
tive bm-ghers, but not like them to save candles and fuel, 
but because we did not possess either of those effeminate 
indulgences. Whilst preparing for this cheerful ending 
of our day's labours, two small boys arrived from the Alp. 
It appeared the herdsman slept there, and only came down 
once or twice a week. The arrival of the boys was acci- 
dental. Visions of hot coffee, before surrendering myself 
to the mauvaises betes in the hay, floated over my 
senses. In reply to our inquiry, they said we might sleep 
there, and should be supplied with milk and bread, but 
they did not think they should be doing right in letting 
us have cheese or butter. The bread was black, and so 
hard that we had to chop it with the axe and boil it in 
milk before we could get our teeth through it. To intro- 
duce successfully the bread and milk into one's mouth 
with the huge wooden spoon or soup-ladle, was an ope- 
ration requiring some ingenuity. English mouths are not 
so capacious as Piedmontese. Travelling accustoms one, 
however, to many departures from refinement, and eventu- 
ally I managed pretty well ; but I could not overcome 
the feeling engendered by the excessive dirt, and, worse 



than all, smell, of the hovel, so I retired, and rolled 
myself up in the hay for the night, adopting the usual 
plaid precautions against mauvaises betes and gaps in 
the roof. 

August I2th. — My safeguards against the enemy had 
not been effectual ; so, after a bad night, I was glad to 
turn out soon after 3 a.m., and perform my ablutions in 
a trough, whilst the guides prepared breakfast. Not 
knowing what work might be in store for us, I hurried 
on the preparations, but it was nearly 4 a.m. before we 
started, the morning seeming to promise a renewal of 
the previous day's fine weather. The information which 
I had expected to obtain by local inquiry was not forth- 
coming, in consequence of the absence of every one from 
the chalet but the two boys. I had contemplated, also, 
taking a native with me, if I found one who knew any- 
thing of even the lower part of the glacier which we 
were going to attack ; for the previous day's experience 
of Gabriel had convinced me he was not to be relied on. 
Indeed, though I could not now secure further assistance, 
I would have dismissed him, but Kronig positively refused 
to proceed without Grabriel's assistance, at any rate in 
carrying the knapsacks. Leaving with the boys a remu- 
neration, which appeared quite to astound them, I started, 
therefore, on this at least doubtful attempt, under as few 
encouraging circumstances as possible ; but what is that 
to an Alpine explorer, especially when in quest of some- 
thing unknown ? It only nerves him the more. 

As we walked slowly up the valley, to save ourselves for 
hard work later on, the darkness changed to da^vn, and 
then to sunrise, with those beautiful effects of colour 
which snow mountains can alone afford. Oh, the glories 
of an early morning walk in such scenes ! the bright crisp 
air sending the blood of the explorer tingling through his 





veins with imptilsive bound, and a sensation of that per- 
fect health which mountain and glacier scaling so largely 
gives; the heart beating high with anticipations of the 
adventures before him— difficulties to be overcome -risks 
to be run— perhaps dangers to be encountered ; and the 
joyful prospects of a successful expedition, after passing 
through scenes of mingled awe and beauty. With nervous 
energ^ he grasps his alpenstock still tighter, and thinks, 
in silent gratitude, of the great Giver of all this good, 
ere his pent-up feelings burst their bounds, and pour forth 
the voice in one wild pcean of jodel and song : " Nous 
seroiis gais la-hautr Ah ! who would change all this for 
the well-earned holiday fritted away in baking continental 
cities and miles of picture galleries, or of gorgeously-fur- 
nitured palace rooms, in the gambling saloons of foreign 
watering-places, on the parades of Brighton or of Scar- 
borough, or in similarly soul-less scenes ! In very deed 
'tis almost an insult to name them on the same page with 
the wondrous scenes of nature and her God ! 

Half an hour took us across the pastures and rough 
ground beyond, forming the head of the valley. Ascend- 
ing rapidly we crossed the lateral moraine, and found 
ourselves on the Zardezan glacier, the ascent of which 
Professor Forbes says, " must be in some places very steep, 
though I should think not wholly impracticable, though 
it might probably be impossible to accomplish it (the 
passage) without sleeping out on the glacier," and the 
"apparently inaccessible face" of which, Mr. King says, 
^' he scanned, endeavouring to trace out a possible route 
up it." At this early hour the glacier was in good order, 
so we pushed rapidly up it for several miles. It pursued an 
almost straight course northwards, bounded on the west 
by the black precipices extending from the Pointe de Zar- 
dezan to the Dent des Bouquetins, whilst on the east 



stretched up a wilderness of snow-slopes and rocks from 
the Dent d'Erin, seamed by three secondary glaciers 
flo"vving into the Zardezan, and the bases of which we 
successively passed. The third was of great breadth, 
and the medial moraine, formed by the junction, was 
strongly defined. The whole scene forcibly reminded 
me of the Gorner glacier, and its tributaries from the 
Monte Eosa chain. 

As we approached the ice-cliffs separating us from the 
head of the glacier, we perceived they were either impas- 
sable, or so difficult that to attempt their passage would 
consume more time than we dare risk, with an unknown neve 
beyond. Our recognisance from the Chateau had suggested 
overcoming this difficulty by endeavouring to scale the 
rocks to the east, which, therefore, we immediately attacked. 
Crossing its lateral moraine we left the glacier, and wound 
up steep slopes of snow, interspersed with patches of rock, 
sometimes bare, at other times covered with rough herbage; 
one of these was a perfect oasis of glorious Alpine flowers 
in a desert of snow ; amongst them I gathered some of the 
finest specimens of the Gnaphalium Leontopodiuin I ever 
saw. Water became desirable ; but the sun had not yet 
subjected this side to his influence sufficiently to free the 
runnels from the icy grasp of the night's frost. Higher 
up I contented myself with icicles. Some of the rocks were 
very difficult to traverse, the snow, melted during the 
previous day, having frozen into sheets of ice in the 

We made straight for a kind of couloir, half glacier and 
half snow-slope, running up to the ridge above. The 
lower part of this couloir was well covered with snow, so 
that we easily ascended it, only occasionally having to use 
the axe. Higher up, and amongst the rocks, at times every 
step had to be cut. Scrambling and rope-hauling suc- 



ceeded, and we emerged from the ridge on to the edge of 
an extensive neve. Away stretched the snow in a kind of 
undulating plateau or basin, hemmed in by rocks or snow- 
peaks ; whilst from the east descended a secondary glacier, 
broken up in front by seracs. At the further side of the 
basin, and almost due north, rose the white top of the Tete 
Blanche, to the south-east of which lay the proposed pass. 
There seemed no unusual difficulties in the way. It was 
clear that we had taken the right direction by ascending 
the couloir, for it was almost in an exact line with the Tete 
Blanche, whereas we should have gone unnecessarily round 
if we had attempted to scale the ice-cliffs. 

It seemed to me, moreover, that from this neve, and 
from the ice-chflfs below, a passage in the north-west di- 
rection, and to the north-east of the Dents des Bouquetins, 
exists to the west arm of the Ferpecle glacier and Evolena. 
It may be more difficult than by the Col de Collon, but 
can scarcely be any longer, and assuredly must exceed it 
in interest as a glacier pass. If practicable, it will form a 
most valuable auxiliary in passing from Aosta to Evolena 

in a long day.* 

We now observed what, in the excitement of climbing 
the couloir and rocks, had escaped notice,— viz. that the 
weather appeared about to change, for a mist was already 
creeping over the snow-field. I insisted on immediate 
progress, so as to gain a look over the Col, if possible, before 
we became enveloped. At a quick pace we started across 
the neve. Gradually the mist thickened round us, and we 
became fog-lost. Still I would not give in. The mist seemed 
of that bright colour which often indicates its yielding to 

* Since this ^^as written the Ile^y sheet (No. 22) of the Federal Survey 
has been published; it quite confirms this suggestion. The engineers 
appear to have crossed the Col, for they give it a height of 3il8 metres or 
11,2U feet, and name it the " Col des Bouquetms." 


the influence of the sun, and it might still lift up its veil, 
even though only for a moment, and enable an observation 
to be taken, as had so providentially been the case in other 
expeditions. Even if it did so, the difficulty here would 
be greater ; for, on those other occasions, its lifting up dis- 
closed land-marks, by which the guides had directed their 
way, when the pall again closed over us ; whilst here, on 
this untrodden snow-field, even in clearest sunlight, there 
would be no familiar points to guide us, and all would be 

At length, after floundering some time through trea- 
cherous snow, we came to a dead halt ; we seemed to be 
getting into a maze of crevasses and ugly ground ; a con- 
sultation was held ; Grabriel's hitherto subdued murmurs 
now took open expression, and he boldly urged immediate 
return, vowing it was impossible to proceed. Impossible ! 
a word the pedestrian but rarely admits to his vocabulary. 
Return ! what Alpine explorer does that until almost all 
hope is past ? I would not hear, therefore, of abandonment 
yet. Fortunately Kronig, eager almost as myself to make 
the pass, yet remained firm, I knew, however, the dispi- 
riting influence which the fears or evil prognostications 
of one guide have on his fellows, so I promptly shut up 
Gabriel. Again, as on former occasions, a gap in the mist 
for a moment disclosed a point beyond. Taking our bear- 
ings from it, we concluded we were not far from the di- 
rection upon which we had decided as most likely to lead 
to the Col ; so we pushed forward, despite Gabriel's rebellious 
murmurings. After a time we came to another halt. The 
mist was thicker than ever. 

It was now also accompanied by a thin snow-shower, 
which seemed to preclude all hopes of a sufficient clearing 
to enable an observation to be taken. Where we were we 
knew not. Kronig was also sensibly less eager in going 

T 2 







forward. I had been convinced throughout that we were 
much too low, and had urged Kronig to keep higher up, 
and more to the right or east, in order to reach the ridge 
under the Tete Blanche. That this course was the correct 
one was seen the following day. 

Meanwhile the guides were wishful to keep the line of 
our present track, if we went on at all ; for Gabriel never 
ceased urging return, and Kronig, though he did not yet 
quite second it, now began to drop hints about its wisdom. 
I urged a further trial. After another deep plough we 
arrived at the foot of a steep couloir, running up between 
some rocks ;— that is, it appeared to do so^ for the mist 
prevented our seeing more than a few yards up the slope, 
from the edges of which we could hear the ice breaking off 
and falling in showers near us. In the hope of obtaining 
a clearer view above, whereby to judge what direction we 
should now pursue, Kronig disengaged himself from the 
rope and prepared to cut his way up the couloir. This 
and the falling ice extinguished the last spark of Gabriel's 
courage. He became absolutely terrified, and, throwing 
off the rope, declared his firm resolve to go no further. 
I was a few feet above him, and could only with difficulty 
restrain myself from placing my alpenstock, like a lance, 
in rest, and charging down upon the coward. My original 
estimate of his unfitness as a guide was now more than 
confirmed. I did not deign to remonstrate with him, or 
ask his assistance. Indeed, he had been of little more use 
than carrying the provision knapsack. I felt sure that if 
the pass was to be effected, Kronig and I could do it better 
without Gabriel, and, as for the knapsack, I could carry 
that also myself rather than the attempt should fail. So 
I did nothino" more than order him to bring the knapsack 
to me. Abashed, he laid his burthen at my feet, whilst I 
wound round my shoulders, his, and Kronig's end of the 

rope, and prepared to follow the latter up the couloir by 
the steps which he had cut in ascending, he having now dis- 
appeared in the mist. Hardly had I done so when a shout 
mingled with the noise of the falling ice, and Kronig's form, 
looming out huge and spectre-like from the mist, appeared, 
and he bade me wait. He carefully descended, and ex- 
plained that he had been to the top of the couloir, and some 
distance on the plateau beyond ; but the mist there was 
still more dense, and he had not been able to obtain any 
view. I could now, therefore, no longer refuse to admit to 
myself that we must return. 

If there is a situation where disappointment is keenly 
felt, surely it is when an Alpine explorer is compelled by 
adverse weather, or other circumstances, to abandon an 
expedition, especially when it has the charm of untried 
ground to add to all its unequalled pleasures. But there 
was no help at hand. The snow fell thicker. It was 
another reason why we must return ; in an hour it would 
obliterate our track over the neve, deep though our steps 
had laboriously ploughed. In fine weather the footmarks 
would be our only guide to the gap in the rocks by which 
we had ascended, even if we could be certain w^here it was, 
considering the devious course which we had pursued in 
the mist. If difficult in clear Aveather, much more so 
would it be in fog and snow storm. We calculated, how- 
ever, that the track w^ould remain distinguishable suffi- 
ciently long to enable us to reach the gap, and yet allow 
us a few minutes previously for the refreshment which we 
so much needed, it being now many hours since our early 
breakfast. The halt would also give such slight chance 
as there was for the w^eather clearing. In these altitudes, 
storms come and go rapidly and unexpectedly : knowing 
this, Alpine travellers never throw away the faintest speck 
of hope. If they did, many of their successes would be 


unperformed ; and they all know how a steady faith and 
perseverance have often led on to victory, when even hope 
seemed left behind. Accordingly, I clambered up to a 
ledge of rock and sat down to feed. The falling snow 
supplied the place of butter on our bread, and iced the wine 
most gloriously, whilst occasionally a huge flake, tired of 
being tossed about by the wind, would rush for shelter into 
Gabriel's ever open mouth : at least one's appetite remained 
intact, however else the expedition failed. 

But we must be moving. The snow falls heavier, and we 
struggle across the neve only just in time before our 
tracks are quite lost ; nay, during the latter part they 
are gone entirely, but the rocks, looming through the 
storm, lead us safely to the gap. 

The descent thence to the couloir below was no easy 
matter, increased as it was by the new fallen and still 
falling snow, which concealed foot-hold, and made the rocks 
more slippery. Midway down, and in a most awkward 
part, Gabriel, who was at the end of the rope behind me, 
became terrified, and threw off the rope, vowing he dared 
not go down so fast I Hear that, ye Alpine explorers I a 
guide committing the absolute treason of throwing off the 
rope, when, without it, a slip of those in front might be 
fatal. For, in those awkward descents, the last man 
plants himself firmly, whilst the others descend a few 
paces, supported by him with the rope ; and when they, 
in turn, have secured anchorage, precarious though it be, 
the last man drops down to their level, protected by them 
in like manner against a slip. I said not a word, coiled 
Gabriel's end of the rope round my arm, and, cautiously 
descending, holding up Kronig below me in turn, ere long 
reached the couloir. We descended it by the steps cut in 
ascending, and were soon glissading down the snow-slopes 
wliich we had so laboriously ascended in early morning. 


At times, in crossing the patches of rock between the 
glissades, we halted to allow of Gabriel, still far behind us, 
getting nearer. His ridiculous aspect, when he trusted 
himself to a mild and cautious slide on the snow-slopes, 
— it could scarcely be called a glissade,— was some com- 
pensation for the annoyance and delay which he had 

occasioned us. 

In due time we gained the glacier below, and passed 
rapidly down it, Gabriel leaping little crevasses in splendid 
style. The snow-storm of the higher region was here 
heavy rain, and we were fast becoming drenched. The 
prospect of another bad night in the hay at Prerayen, with 
reduced provisions, was not cheering. I began to discuss 
the propriety of pushing forward at once down the 
Yalpelline to the first inn, and on my way to another 
district, abandoning the attempt to effect the pass, for, 
even if the day following should be fine, the quantity of 
new fallen snow would be a serious bar to success. With 
this view, or, in the alternative, to get the herdsman to 
descend with us to the chalet at Prerayen, and increase 
our accommodation for the night, we left the glacier 
before reaching its foot, and, winding up the mountain- 
slopes on its west side, reached the Alp, where the men 
were herding the cattle. Of all the Alps which I have 
seen, and at which I have stayed the night, this one 
certainly was the wildest ; and not unnaturally sOj situated 
as it is at the head of an almost unknown valley. 

Generally speaking, there is a hut for shelter of some 
kind. Here, on this wild rocky slope^ we found huddled 
together, in a kind of cave under a projecting rock, the 
herdsman and two or three assistants. Talk of Kembrandt 
scenes ! nay, see this picturesquely gloomy hole, in drench- 
ing rain and mist. In a corner, a heap of hay and dried 
leaves, covered with the superfluous garments of the 





men, forms the bed ; in front of which han^ sacks and 
cloths in order to keep out, if possible, the driving rain 
and wind. From sticks, wedged into the crannies of the 
rock, hang the few articles of personal comfort which they 
require ; and, of more importance, the various implements 
used in their work of herding and cheese-making. The 
wild hair and clothing of the men, and their caudal 
appendages, in the shape of one-legged milking stools, 
strapped on behind, waggling as they walked, but equal 
their rough and weather-beaten, yet honest faces, and 
contrast strangely with the little attentions which they 
immediately bestow upon us — unwinding my dripping 
plaid, and offering bowls of milk. On this, Kronig and 
Gabriel, who had been assiduous in their attentions to the 
brandy during the day, immediately seize, while I take a sip 
of whisky out of my pocket-flask to keep out cold, whilst 
discussing matters with the herdsman. The weird picture 
is completed by the numerous cows standing on the 
slopes outside dripping with rain, and looking as if they 
wished to share the little shelter which the rock afforded ; 
for there was barely room for our three additional figures. 
The bells on the necks of the cattle clanged dismally and 
fitfully in the damp heavy air, mingling occasionally 
with the wind's wild whistle. Oh ! how different to that 
cheering sound which, heard afar on some bright evening, 
betokens your approach to civilisation and food, after a 
hard Alpine expedition. But I must stop, or I should fill 
pages from the wild weird scene, in true consonance, as it 
was, with the mournful feelings imbuing an Alpine 
explorer, when returning from an unsuccessful expedition. 
It appeared these men had, from their eyrie, seen us go up 
the glacier in the morning, and theirs were the shrill 
whistles which we had heard, and attributed to marmots. 
The return of the two boys from the chalet had explained 

the unusual appearance of human beings on that glacier, 
and they were loud in their expressions of wonder at our 
undertaking such an expedition. They informed us there 
was no inn nearer than Valpelline, five hours down the 
valley, and that was an indifferent one. The herdsman 
offered, however, to return \nth us to the chalet, and 
endeavour to improve matters for the night ; so we were 
soon down on the glacier again, and thence reached the 
chalet by the route by which we had ascended in the 


On the way I became so dissatisfied with the events of 
the day, and the not very pleasing prospects for the night, 
that I again reflected upon the advisability of pushing on at 
once for Valpelline. My appetite also hankered after the 
flesh-pots of Egypt; to wit, something decent to eat, 
instead of the blocks of black bread, chopped with the 
hatchet, and soaked in milk, upon which highly nutritious 
food the reduced state of our stores would necessitate our 
supping. But I did not like to give in : my time was 
drawing to a close ; I must effect the pass ; the weather 
might not beat us back the following day. At any rate, 
I would see how it then looked. I would put up with 
anything — even a second night — for the chance of 
success; if the worst happened, I would go down the 
valley the following morning, revenge myself against the 
present short commons by devotion to multitudinous 
tables cVhote, and push on to another district, or return 
with fresh supplies and again attack the pass. 

Whilst the fire was being lit in the odoriferous hovel, I 
divested myself of my wet garments, rolled myself up in 
the hay, lit my pipe, and tried to think I was warm and 
jolly, which I wasn't. In due time my valet (for your 
guide becomes a valet, and a good one Kronig was) 
announced that our luxurious repast was ready. A clean 



cheese-cloth covered the small portion of the dirty table 
allotted to me as the '' Herr," and the old herdsman had 
unlocked from his stores a piece of fontlne as the 
smaller cheeses are called, being the inferior and second 
gathering from the pan after the proper cheeses are 
extracted from it. The small amount of meat left was 
sacredly reserved to reward the efforts of the following day. 
And thus we feasted with appetites such as only moun- 
taineers are blessed with. And then we lit our pipes and 
huddled over the fire^ and became as merry as ever. 

The herdsman was a fine old fellow, and told me much 
about his hard, but free, occupation. But every one knows 
all about that from guide-books. No more than others 
whom I had encountered on this, the Italian side, did he 
talk of the bosh and clap-trap, " free and united Italy," 
in the terms of rhapsody adopted by some people who 
know nothing about the matter. He did not appear to 
think it would be any very great advantage to the un- 
trammelled and active mountain livers and inhabitants of 
northern Italy, to have joined to them the lazy treacherous 
natives of the south. " It might be all very well, but they 
were nearly eaten up with the increased taxes occasioned 
by Sardinia's ambitious policy." 

Ketiring for a while, the herdsman returned to say he 
had made up a kind of bed for me in a cupboard in the 
adjoining building; but having in our investigation on the 
preceding evening peeped through the window and seen 
that dormitory, I was not so enamoured with the recollec- 
tion of it as to venture on even a second inspection. 
However gorgeously appareled it might be, I should not 
take off my owti garments, and therefore I might just as 
well go back to the hay, where, at any rate, I should have 
air (and plenty of it, too), instead of being stifled in a 
fusty cupboard. Give the mountaineer a plaid, a bundle 



of hay, and a knapsack for pillow, and he is contented 
enough after a hard Alpine day. In the matter of his 
enemies, the mauvaises betes, the chances would be 
equal. So, not to hurt the old man's feelings for his kind 
attention, I told him a decided little fib ; namel}^, that I 
had been so pleased with my former night in his hay, that 
I should be only too glad to have a second tumble into it; 
whereat he smiled approval. So Kronig and Grabriel crept 
into the cupboard, after shutting me up in the cattle-shed 
alone with the bats, owls, mice, fleas, and other "such 
small deer." 

And this time I had a tolerable night, and never was 
happier than when Kronig awoke me soon after 4 o'clock 
next morning (August 13th)j and, in reply to my anxious 
inquiry, informed me that the rain was over, and the day 
promised to be fine. Hurrah, for the pass yet I I thought, 
was up in a jiffy, shaking off the hay, and dipping my 
head in the run of water outside. But sodden boots had 
to be got on, the fire lit, coffee and milk boiled, and knap- 
sacks re-arranged, so that it was 5.45 a.m. before we 

Kronig was as dissatisfied as myself with Grabriel, and 
perhaps piqued at the failure of the preceding day, 
though it had been due to the weather alone, and not to 
any fault of his. It was obviously his interest to effect 
the pass. He would get high pay from me ; it would add 
to his fame as a Zermatt guide, and to his employment by 
those who would doubtliess follow in our footsteps. When, 
therefore, I positively refused to let Gabriel again accom- 
pany me, and offered to carry, throughout the day's un- 
known toils and trials, my additional share of the baggage 
(there being no one available as porter), and challenged 
Kronig to attempt the pass with me alone, the honest 
fellow's face lighted up, and he said he would go with me 



unassisted wherever I went. He warned me, however, of 
what we were undertaking; not only should I have to 
carry the increased weight, but the work before us might 
prove very difficult. In all this I must take an additional 
share, as well as of the extra strain on the rope, where 
only two are working instead of three. I felt, however, 
so bound to effect the pass, that none of his warnings 
made me hesitate ; and we had seen enough of each other 
in former excursions to have mutual confidence, and to 
feel tolerably certain that, if the pass was practicable for 
three, it would be for two — he at one end of the rope, 
and I at the other. 

All this had been settled the preceding night, in firm 
resolve to try again this morning, if the weather was 
favourable. Hence the now re-arrangement and division 
of the baggage and other preparations. I shook hands 
with the jolly old herdsman (who would scarcely accept 
our proffered remuneration, and seemed so doubtful of 
the success of our enterprise, that he half hinted at expect- 
ing to see us again before night), and resumed our route 
of the preceding day up the valley, where Kronig soon 

joined me. 

The morning was beautiful, and, as we descended on to 
the o-lacier, w-e looked back at the Chateau des Dames, on 
whose hitherto untrodden summit we had stood two days 
before. As the sunbeams caught her peak, she seemed 
smilingly to flash her eyes in encouragement of our re- 
newed effort. How I loved her for that same, and hugged 
it to me, as augury good. 

Now, I had resolved to push on at the fastest pace 
possible, so that, should the envious mist again enshroud 
us, we might, at least, have got so far up the Col as to get 
a view, and venture to proceed, even though in mist. 
We should be the better enabled to march rapidly, because 



for the first part of the day we should have the advantage 
of going over familiar ground. Hence I said nothing to 
Kronig, but quietly pushed forward at my best, and so 
much so, that I noticed him at times hang back, as if 
slightly distressed; but a natural pride and enthusiasm 
restrained any outward sign in the good fellow, though he 
was, of course, more heavily loaded than I. 

In this way, with scarce a pause, we ascended the 
glacier and couloir, and gained the gap in the rocks at 
9.45 A.M., being little more than half the time consumed 
the previous day when clogged with Grabriel. And yet 
the steps which we had so laboriously then made were of 
no avail now, quite obliterated, as they were, by the heavy 
new-fallen snow, which always adds so much to Alpine 
labour. These rocks are called on some maps Papilles 
Kouges ; on others the Dents des Bouquetins, — having, I 
suppose, formerly been a resort of the now all but extinct 
Bouquetins; but, as this name is more properly appli- 
cable to the range on the west side of the ice-fall, the rocks 
have, to avoid confusion, no name attached to them on 
the map illustrating this paper. 

I scrambled up the last rocks to the gap in eager haste^ 
and almost sickenins: fear whether we should, as on the 
preceding day, find the neve beyond enveloped in mist. 
But, happily, no ! Away stretched those undulating snow- 
slopes, glistening in unclouded sun, and bounded on the 
north by the range leading up to the Tete Blanche. In 
this chain we distinguished the couloir, at the foot of 
which the storm had, the previous day, stopped our fur- 
ther progress. It showed clearly how far out of the right 
direction we had then gone in the mist and storm.* 

*• The neve, as well as the glacier, is called on some maps Zardezan. 
The general features around seemed so little to agree with those depicted, 
that the positions assigned, like the name of the rocks just mentioned, may 




The unclouded view confirmed also the belief formed on 
the previous day, in the existence of a new passage to 
Evolena, as a rival to the Col de Collon. But I bore in 
mind the resolve to push on as fast as possible. After only 
five minutes' halt, therefore, despite our rapid ascent, we 
plunged into the snow, keeping east of our direction of the 
previous day, the track of which, deep though it had been 
ploughed, had been quite obliterated by the storm. On 
we struggled, sometimes up snow-slopes, then across one, 
and down into a kind of snow valley on the other side. At 
length the long-hoped for Col came in sight. The toil was 
great, owing to the increased depth of snow, and the 
almost insupportable heat and glare; yet scarce a mo- 
ment's pause was taken. The prize was almost in our 
grasp, and something might occur even yet to snatch it 
away ; so on we pushed, straining every nerve. And then 
high mountains began to appear beyond the Col as we 
rose. A few steps more, and hurrah ! we were on the top, 
and scanning eagerly the further side, in order to see if 
there were any difficulties in the way of a descent. 

Again not a speck of mist to hinder observation. From 
our feet stretched steep slopes of snow, much cut up with 
crevasses and ice-cliffs, but amongst which it appeared 
possible to thread our way to the neve of the Zmutt gla- 
cier below, and join the route from the Col d'Erin, a short 

be equally questioned, and not improperly, considering so little is known 
of the district itself. Alpine exploration is now, every season, making 
great inroads into the accuracy of the maps, not only supplying palpable 
omissions, but knocking out, as devoid of existence, mountains, glaciers, 
&c., shown on even Government charts. Hence it is not an unreasonable 
supposition, that many parts of the maps have been concocted in the 
bureau of the engineers, by substituting a fertile imagination for the 
trouble of surveying the localities themselves. Since the exploration of 
this pass,— in fact during the present winter,— the before mentioned sheet 
of the Federal Survey has been issued. It comprises the entire terrain of 
the " High Level " route, and will probably contribute, more than anything 
else, to throw open the district to a larger number of our countr}'men. 



distance above the Stockhi. That plateau once attained, 
we knew the descent could be easily made thence to Zer- 
matt, for we should be on old ground. In joy and gratitude, 
we therefore considered ourselves entitled to treat the pass 
as won. 

Owing to the rapid pace at which we had come, it was 
only 10.50 a.m. We sat down in the snow, in enjo3mient 
of the mao^nificent scene around us ; but as the view was 
the same as that obtained shortly afterwards from higher 
ground, I shall postpone until then its description ; for at 
our left hand, or north, rose up the beautiful snow-top of 
the Tete Blanche (appropriately taking its name from this 
top), and the cacoethes scandendi irresistibly impelled 
me towards it. We should have plenty of light left to 
reach Zermatt, and so complete the pass, even allowing 
time for unforeseen difficulties, and yet to ascend the Tete 
Blanche previously; and what mountaineer, finding him- 
self near a peak which he has time to ascend, can resist 
doin^ so. There was the additional attraction of its being 
a new mountain, — that is, not previously ascended. 

Cacheing the baggage in the snow, we again put on the 
rope, and at 11.10 a.m. started in pursuit, climbing almost 
straight up. We found no difficulties ; it was simply a 
question of labour, the snow being deeper than ever. 
However, recent success had produced an excitement, which 
would have carried us, I believe, up half a dozen Tetes 
Blanches ; and ere long we stood on the top, which con- 
sisted of a sharp ridge of snow, twisted up by the wind 
into a ledge just broad enough to walk along. This ridge 
seemed to descend gradually on the north-east to the Col 
d'Erin, whilst on the south it broke off precipitously, 
hanging over the new pass, and the snow-field which we 
had traversed below. The height of the Tete Blanche is 
12,307 feet, that of the Col d'Erin 11,418 feet; and as 




that Col was evidently lower than the new pass, I esti- 
mated the height of the latter at 11,600 feet, which would 
agree also with the apparent height of the Tete Blanche 
above it.* And when I regarded our track in the snow to 
the gap in the rocks by which we had ascended from 
Prerayen in the Valpelline, and* turning round, looked in 
the direction forwards to Zermatt, I felt that this new pass, 
abridging, as it did, the distance between the two valleys 
from two hard days' into one easy day's work, might be 
appropriately named the Col de la Valpelline, which 
name it thereupon received. It has been crossed several 
times since; and when more generally known, it will 
probably become a favourite^ not only for the superb 
snow and glacier scenery which it oifets, but as being, 
firstly, a not unworthy rival to the Col de Collon, in 
passing from Aosta to Evolena ; secondly, a commimicatioa 
between Zermatt and the Chalet d'Otemma, as conjectured 
by Messrs. Buxton and Cowell ; and thirdly, the most direct 
route between the two principal points of interest, the 
centres of the chains of Monte Rosa and Mont Blanc, and 
a link of the "High Level" route, the first in order of time, 
though the last in the present sequence, which the expedi- 
tion of this day thus forged. 

WTiether it was our success, or the brilliance of the day, 
or the real superiority of the scene around, I cannot say ; 
but I do not think I ever enjoyed so glorious a view. 
The central position of the mountain, surrounded by a 
vast snow-field, bordered by lofty peaks, gave it peculiar 
advantages. Besides the well-known view from the Col 
d'Erin, it displayed a prospect in two directions, which 

* Since tMs account was written, I have become indebted to Sir T. Fowell 
Buxton for a boiling point observation taken on the Col in the foUowing 
year, which gives it a height of 11,687 feet. Mr. Tuckett, who crossed it 
the same year, considers that this is perhaps 50 to 100 feet less than the 
real height. 


that Col cannot ; namely, first on the side, which the 
mountain itself hid, embracing the line of familiar peaks, 
stretching south-westwardly to Mont Blanc ; and secondly, 
to the north-east towered up the wondrous Dent Blanche 
and sharp-edged Weisshorn, with the Bernese Oberland 
beyond. In front was the mighty obelisk of the Matter- 
horn, with, nearer still, the Dent d'Erin, little less in 
height ; whilst beyond the eye ranged over the many 
other well-known mountains and glaciers of the Monte 
Eosa district. The Hochste Spitze of Monte Eosa herself. 



however, seemed hidden by the Matterhoro. Was not this a 
sight worth hours of toil to attain ? Let those say who know 
what it is to stand upon a high mountain-top in golden sun- 
light, and see the neighbouring peaks crowding round to 
welcome them. In ascending, I had noticed strongly deve- 
loped, what is sometimes seen in deep, new-fallen snow ; 
namely, the blue, shimmering light emitted from the holes 
in the snow formed by the alpenstock. 

We scudded down the mountain, and rejoined our bag- 
gage on the Col, after an absence of little more than an 

VOL. I. z 



hour. The descent to the plateau below, through un- 
known crevasses and ice-cliffs, and only one at the rope's 
end to check any fall of the other, was next to be under- 
taken. The baggage was, therefore, carefully re-adjusted, 
and at 12.15 p.m. we began to descend, each step being 
well secured, and the rope kept constantly taut. The 
value of tLis was presently seen. Down plopped Kronig 
into a crevasse ; but I had my heel well planted, rope tight 
as a drum, and alpenstock firmly fixed ; so the strain never 
reached that jerk often so fatal, and, though much lighter, 
I easily checked the heavier falling body. Kronig did the 
same for me shortly afterwards. 

The neve was treacherous, so we made a diversion on to 
sounder snow. Occasionally we were stopped by some 
yawning crevasse or towering serac, and were obliged to 
go back, or take the obstruction in flank. The edges of 
the crevasses were fringed with enormous icicles, and dis- 
played the well-known ethereal colour. Kronig threaded 
the difficulties as a gourmand selects the dishes in a 
Parisian table cVhote. And so, in time, we reached the 
snow-slopes below. Some glissades succeeded, and we 
began descending the rocks of our friend the Stockhi. 

At the first run of water we halt. It is now 1 p.m., 
and, as we have eaten nothing since breakfast, and have 
ample daylight before us, we feed luxuriously,— that is, so 
far as time is concerned ; for the provisions, short the 
previous day, are of course shorter commons to-day. We 
stay an hour thus employed, and pleasantly too, for even 
a crust is relished by a glacier appetite. Gazing into the 
mighty rifts and spotless snows of the Dent d'Erin and 
towering ^latterhom opposite, we hold high festival, under 
the blul vault of heaven. We are soon down the remain- 
ing rocks, glissades, and slopes, and on the lower level of 
the Zmutt glacier once more. The sun is fiercely hot. 



and we are very glad to get shelter in the forest below, 
the glades of which, and little nooks of hay-making, seem 
prettier than ever. Having time to spare, we stop at some 
of these lovely spots, and at the last one, before approach- 
ing Zermatt, get under a waterfall and have a refreshing 
attempt at an al-fresco toilet, sorely needed after two 
nights in the hay, and in order to make an entry into 
Zermatt in respectable guise. 

And so, at 5.30 p.m., we strolled into Zermatt all right, 
though, despite the difficulties of a late start, and much 
new-fallen snow, we had, in less than twelve hours, not only 
effected a pass between points which had hitherto occupied 
two long and hard days, but had also ascended a mountain 
en route, and loitered away two hours of the time. It will 
be seen, therefore, that the Col de la Valpelline may be 
comfortably traversed in about ten hours, with an hour 
additional if the ascent of the Tete Blanche is included 
in the excursion. 

And did not I revenge myself for the privations of the 
last few days in the matter of food ? The dinner, to which 
I shortly afterwards sat down, would have been a treat to 
even an alderman. The whole resources of the establish- 
ment had been evoked in a wonderful culinary effort. 
Good Seller, the landlord of the Monte Eosa hotel, pre- 
sented a bottle of his choicest wine, as the honorarium of 
a new pass. Divers pipes followed, and at a late hour 
I retired, not to hay, but to a bed, in that serene state of 
mind and body which a successful day of Alpine explora- 
tion insures in a way which no other occupation can. 

It only remains to add, that a fortnight after com- 
pleting the "High Level" route by the discovery of 
the Col du Sonadon, whilst Mathews and ' I left Zer- 
matt, on our way over the Theodule to Turin and the 
slaughter of the Monte Yiso, Messrs. Hardy, Prest, 

Z 2 



Johnson, and Hudson, who wanted to get to Cha- 
mounix, turned off, at our recommendation, in order 
to reach it by the new route. They arrived at St. 
Pierre all right by the Cols de la Valpelline, Keuse de 
TAi'olla, and du Sonadon, but were beaten back by an 
accidental circumstance from the Argentiere, or last day's 
work. WTiilst the various links of the route had been 
supplied by the discoverers of these Cols and that of 
the Chermontane, Mr. Hardy and his party were the 
first who had traversed them continuously thus far. 
Meanwhile I made a forced march from the Viso, and 
joined Messrs. Hardy, Prest, and Johnson at the Col 
de Voza, whence we crossed over the summit of Mont 
Blanc by the Aiguille de Goute and Bosse du Drom- 
medaire, descending to Chamounix, whence, with Messrs. 
Messer and Brandram also, we passed over the Buet to the 
valley of Sixt and Geneva ; and I was pleased to find that 
Mr. Hardy's party concurred in the opinion, that the new 
" Hic^h Level " route from Zermatt to Chamounix, and vice 
versa, combines a series of the most interesting excursions 
to be found in the Alps. 










GresiMTnev lit Trinita «5t 

London.- Lcnaman a Lo. 



By Edward Schweitzer. 

" Auf den Bergen ist Freiheit ! Der Haucli der Griifte 
Steigt nicht hinauf in die reinen Liifte ; 
Die Welt ist vollkommen iiberall, 
Wo der Mensch nicht hinkommt mit seiner Qual." 

In my Alpine wanderings in the vicinity of Monte Eosa 
and through its beautiful valleys, both on the Swiss and 
Italian side, I have always admired the grand snow-wall of 
the four-crested Breithorn, but especially as seen from the 
road between Kanda and Zermatt, and from that between 
Breuil and the St. Theodule col. My desire to ascend this 
noble mountain grew with every new visit to Zermatt; 
but, owinof to bad weather and other circumstances, I had 
been prevented from fulfilling my intention until last 
year. The summer season of 1861, so memorable to 
mountaineers for constantly fine weather and clearness of 
atmosphere, rendered most ascents both promising and 
successful, and gave me the long-desired opportunity of 
ascending the Breithorn. As the 1st of September dawned 
upon Zermatt with unusual brightness, and accompanied 
by a slight northerly breeze, I at once made the necessary 
preparations for an ascent on the following morning. 
' A gentleman from Dublin, Mr. D. Howe, who intended 
to cross the St. Theodule, offered himself as my com- 
panion, and we therefore engaged two guides, — Pierre 
Taugwalder and son, the former one of the most trust- 





worthy and experienced icemen of Zermatt, and the 
latter possessing all the sterliog qualities of his father. 

At two o'clock in the morning of the 2nd of September 
I heard the measured footsteps of the guide approaching 
my chamber; and immediately afterwards a knock, ac- 
companied by the welcome information that the heavens 
were perfectly cloudless, with every promise of a glorious 
day, made me forsake my couch with alacrity. It was 
3.15 A.M. ere we were able to file off; we plunged into 
the exhilarating morning air, faintly lit up by the stars, 
which shone with that wonderful brightness which re- 
sembles electric scintillation, whilst from the waning 
crescent-like moon in the south-east there streamed a 
gentle lustre upon the summits of those dark frowning 
mountains which, like cyclopean walls, hem in the pic- 
turesque village of Zermatt. In these twilight hours, the 
indefinite outlines of all forms, and the profound stillness 
which generally reigns, impress the mind with a sensation 
of mysterious vagueness, and tinge the venture of the 
coming day with mingled feelings of hope and doubt. In 
our case, however, the silence was broken by the rush 
of the wild Visp, and by that of the wilder Zmutt torrent 
as we crossed its bridge. We now commenced a steep 
ascent through a small wood, and came to a narrow path 
overhanging the Gomer glacier, which, in the light of 
early dawn, stood out spectre-like, with its bluish white 
pinnacles, turrets, and broken arches. 

Soon after four o'clock the moon and stars began to pale, 
and a kind of faint light, the reflection of the rays of the 
sun, which was still beneath the horizon, played around 
the uppermost crest of the Matterhorn. The west was 
illuminated with a faint yellow glow, whilst the east as- 
sumed a dark purple ; but the hue of the former faded 
rapidly into a leaden colour as the first fire-blush tinged 

the Hochste Spitze of Monte Rosa, and in succession, ac- 
cording to their respective altitudes, the summits of the 
Weisshorn, Mischabel, and Matterhorn. 

" Einsame Haupter 
Glanzen erhellt, 
Und Aurora beriihrt sie 
Mit den ewigen Strahlen, 
Als die ragenden Gipfel der Welt." 

I hardly remember having ever witnessed such an il- 
lumination: each successive peak seemed lit up by an 
ethereal crimson fire to usher in the glories of the coming 


The Matterhorn, now our nearest neighbour, stood 
majestically before us in grand and noble proportions. 
Its towering peak, cleaving the blue air, displayed mar- 
vellously all the gradations of light, from the first flicker 
of the reflected ray to the pale blush which deepened 
into crimson, and ripened gradually into the golden 
beams, which, with growing intensity, glided down the 
massive pyramid, until they smote our brow as perfect 


We had now reached the terminal moraine of the 
Gomer glacier, and scrambled and tumbled over the 
broken fragments ; but, notwithstanding the desolate waste 
around us, the elastic sunlit air inspired us with the 
highest spirits. At six o'clock we stepped upon the St. 
Theodule glacier. The stern silence which reigns in 
these regions at night, and seems to bind them with the 
chain of death, was now broken as the day began to ad- 
vance, awakening even the sluggish life of the glacier. 
This first spoke in the faint accents of tiny rills, then with 
the shriller notes of streamlets and the fuller voice of 
torrents, until, as the hours crept on, charged with the life- 
giving forces of light and heat, the ice-masses rent asunder 





with the roar of thunder, and deep-toned avalanches shook 

the air. 

The appearance 'of the glacier struck me as unusual; 
for when I crossed its col in the summer of 1858, it pre- 
sented one sheet of white snow, into which I sank above 
my ankles, and not unfrequently up to my knees, 
making progress most laborious. We had now before 
us a slope of granulated ice of a leaden hue, hard, crisp, 
and dry, from the last night's frost, over which the foot 
passed swiftly. As we approached the culminating point 
of the glacier, the ice gradually assumed the appearance 
of snow, which glittered with thousands of dancing light- 
sparks, as the morning beams smote the crystallised 


For about two-thirds of the glacier route to the col the 
views are very imposing, and it is worth while to linger 
for a moment to contemplate the cyclopean belt of moun- 
tains. Facing the north, our right is flanked by the 
Petit Mont Cervin, the Breithorn, Castor and Pollux, the 
Lyskamm, and the many-peaked Monte Eosa ; on our left 
uprears, in stupendous grandeur, the wonderful form of 
the Matterhorn ; then comes the Dent Blanche, the Gabel- 
homer, the Trifthorn, the sharp-pointed, magnificent 
Weisshorn ; after which, circling round to the right, follows 
a bold range in the Rhone valley, which links itself to the 
gigantic masses of the Saasgrat, and finally brings us back 
to the Monte Kosa. It seemed, indeed, like a chain of 
frosted silver ; and, to perfect the resemblance, in the far 
north rose the Bernese Alps, over which the Jungfrau 
blazed like a precious clasp, whilst pendent snow-fields 
and overhanging glaciers, like giant drops, jewelled the 
massive flanks of the white-shining summits. I have 
given but a superficial outline of this unrivalled scene ; 
but it may, I hope, suffice to encourage moderate climbers, 

even of the fair sex, to penetrate into this region ; and I 
can assure them, from my own experience, that nowhere in 
the Alps, not excepting Chamounix or the ^ggisch-horn, 
can they survey with greater ease, whilst standing in the 
midst of a perfect arctic region, such a grouping of co- 
lossal mountains, ranging generally from 13,000 to 15,000 

feet in height. 

At 7.10 A.M. we reached the St. Theodule col. We 
rested for a while on a bench outside the hut at the sum- 
mit of the col. The air was calm, and the sun, even at 
that early hour, struck warm, and rendered this refuge in 
the snow-wilderness a pleasant shelter, while the arrival of 
guides returning from Zermatt, and the presence of a lady 
and gentleman, with their attendants, gave animation to the 
scene. The thermometer indicated a temperature of 48° 
Fahr. Galton's hypsometer gave the boiling-point at 
192-8° Fahr.; and this, compared with the barometer of 
the Observatory of Geneva, establishes the altitude, ac- 
cording to Guyot's tables, at 11,014 feet : the Swiss trigo- 
nometrical measurement gave 10,900 feet. After this 
examination, I took a hasty survey of the southern side of 
the col. A glorious sight presented itself as I gazed upon 
the great masses of the Piedmontese mountains stretched 
before me in majestic outlines. 

Our guides now admonished us to proceed. Veils and 
spectacles were adjusted, both of which I discarded un- 
wisely, as impediments to sight, hoping to be exempted, as 
on former occasions, from the injurious effects of the 
vibration of snow-light. I did not suffer at the time ; but 
my eyes were much inflamed the next morning,— sensitive 
even to the diffused light of the room,— and I was com- 
pelled for two days to use smoke-coloured spectacles. 

At 7.45 A.M. we left the hut, and, bearing away in an 
easterly direction, traversed the snow-fields behind the 









Petit Mont Cervin. Having gained the highest plateau 
we entered on long snow reaches, which extended to the 
rangres of the Breithom, Castor and Pollux, and the 
Lyskamm. Precisely at 9.30 a.m. we arrived at the base 
of the Breithorn. The colossal wall, which connects itself 
with Le8 Jumieaux, consists of four elevations or crests, 
of which the most westerly, overhanging the Petit Mont 
Cervin, is the highest, and, according to a trigonometrical 
measurement by the Swiss government, calculated at 13,903 
Swiss, or 13,685 English feet. Towards this summit we 
directed our steps. Before we commenced our more 
trying task we halted for about ten minutes, during which 
time we partook of a small repast of bread and butter, cold 
meat, and a cup of Beaujolais. 

I must say here a few words on the injudicious habit of 
supplying guides and travellers with a heavy supply of 
food and wine. I so entirely subscribe to Professor Tyn- 
dall's opinion, expressed in his admirable and classic work 
" On the Grlaciers of the Alps," that I cannot refrain from 
repeating it here. He says, " Both guides and travellers 
often impair their vigour and render themselves cowardly 
and apathetic by the incessant refreshing which they 
deem necessary to indulge in on such occasions." I 
observed how little food or wine Taugwalder took, and 
that he preferred the country wine to any stronger drink* 
This is the habit of all the best guides. With a roll and a 
piece of chocolate I have sustained myself on many a long 
climb, husbanding my strength by an even measured pace, 
and avoiding frequent draughts of water. A piece of 
sugar will often assuage the painful effects of burning 
thirst ; a raisin or plum will do the same. When water 
is near, the addition of an effervescent powder is most 
refreshing but of all beverages, that which soothes 
me most, when much fatigued, is a slightly sweetened 

infusion of black tea, mixed with red wine in equal pro- 
portions. It is food and drink at the same time, and allays 
the irritation of the mucous membrane. Butter ought not 
to be omitted on a mountain excursion ; with bread it is 
often preferable to stringy hard-fibred meat, such as is 
generally obtained. Brandy ought only to be used as a 
remedy in case of sudden indisposition. Nothing impairs 
the nervous powers so much as frequent potations of 
cognac and water ; they give at first an increased feeling of 
activity, but, " false as the dream of the sleeper," they 
assuredly leave the climber more enervated and less 
fit for work. A case of the kind occurred this season, 
and might have led to serious consequences. A young 
Englishman of about twenty-four years of age, the very 
picture of strength and health, made the passage of the 
Weissthor from Macugnaga. He was not much accus- 
tomed to severe mountain-climbing, and when suddenly 
confronted by dangerous slopes, he apprehended that his 
physical powers would not carry him through his appointed 
task ; so he applied himself to frequent draughts of cognac 
and water, against the warnings of his guides. The result 
became soon apparent. They had to drag him up by 
ropes in an exhausted state, endangering in no slight 
degree the safety of his trusty conductors. In fact, as he 
told me himself, he had not a notion how he overcame the 
difficulties and gained the summit : he felt all the time in 
a helpless stupor. 

We now entered with a right good will upon the more 
serious climb, up slopes having an angle from 45° to 55°. 
It was therefore expedient to be roped together. I took my 
place next to the chief guide, my companion followed, and 
the second guide brought up the rear. The rope between 
each extended to about five feet, which may seem a small 
allowance ; but it had its advantage on a steep incline, as it 


f I 

I i 





gave steadiness to our phalanx, and in case of a slip it would 
have immediately communicated a warning that would 
have been replied to by a counterbalancing check, so that 
the danger of a serious fall was reduced to a minimum. 
During our progress we kept first in a north-west direction ; 
but as the ascent increased in steepness and the snow in 
hardness, we were compelled to commence a zigzag course. 
We now approached two parallel transverse crevasses, and 
as they were wide, and the opposite landing was high, we 
dared not venture on a spring. We therefore searched for 
a snow-bridge, which we soon found, but in that frail con- 
dition that the probing alpenstock sank through it into the 
chasm beneath, producing a long narrow circular tunnel of 
the most exquisite cerulean hue. Our guides, from practice, 
knew how to overcome this difficulty, and in their opera- 
tion I perceived they unconsciously acted upon a scientific 
principle. Taugwalder stepped forward and coaxed the snow, 
first by patting it with his staff, then by flogging it, and 
finally by trampling upon it, though carefully, and thus 
changed the crumbling snow, by increasing pressure and the 
subsequent process of regelation, into a compact firm mass, 
thus practically illustrating that property of ice, first noticed 
by Professor Faraday, which Professor Tyndall has so 
happily applied to the explanation of various glacial phe- 

Whilst the guide was engaged in consolidating the 
bridge over the upper crevasse, which was the larger of the 
two, I examined its ice-architecture, and was struck with 
the plain horizontal bedding visible in some places, 
traversed at right angles by vertical blue veins. The 
surface was somewhat convex ; and at one particular spot 
we admired the grouping of splendid ice-pendants, some 
resembling organ-pipes of all sizes, others appearing like 
columns, the stalactites of frozen water emitting a 

chequered light of emerald green and hyaline blue. What 
a gorgeous display of the gems of an ice-world I 

After safely crossing the crevasses, the ascent became 
so steep, and the snow so hard, being converted by the 
unusual heat of the season almost into ice, that our foot- 
ing was rendered precarious, and Taugwalder sent his son 
forward to assist him in cutting steps. We now clung on 
to a very steep slope, and our onward course was of neces- 
sity slow. Once or twice, when looking down, I was 
impressed with the conviction that the smallest slide, un- 
supported, would be an inevitable disaster, leading to the 
unpleasant chance either of being engulfed in one of the 
crevasses, or of being impelled beyond and hurled down 
some hundreds of feet. It was unwise to entertain 
even the possibility of such an event ; and indeed, owdng 
to the great caution required for every onward step, 
and the consequent tension of the nerves, every other 
reflection was eflectually banished. Thus we hewed our 
course upward, small ice-pieces flying like spray over 
our heads, the larger ones bounding at once beyond our 


Taugwalder's deep and monotonous voice, issuing as 
from a cavern, directed the operations of his son, and 
admonished us to follow cautiously in his steps. Once a 
slip occurred : my companion behind me stumbled, we all 
threw ourselves forward, and he recovered himself in an 
instant, but in so doing wounded my right hand with his 
alpenstock. Had the rope been long and slack, the 
slider would have obtained, in all probability, an impetus 
which, on such an incline, and with such insecure footing, 
might have compromised the safety of all. After an hour 
of this kind of work the acclivity became less, and being 
more at my ease I looked towards the sununit, which was 
yet some distance off. My attention was attracted to the 


f ' 








singular aspect of the sky, now of the deepest blue, almost 
approaching black, and I fancied every moment I might 
* see the faint twinkle of a star. The rays of the sun 
streamed through the deep azure ether, nearly bereft of 
their intensity, so that I gazed into that fountain of light 
without flinching ; not so when I directed the eye upon the 
snow, the reflected, highly intensified light from which 
painfully dazzled my sight. It was evident we had now 
penetrated into a different region, where even the glories of 
the sun dimmed into dull, lustreless light, resulting from 
the small amount of moisture in the atmosphere at this 
height, and the consequent diminished diffusion of the rays. 
Suddenly the rope slackened; we had turned the 
uppermost shoulder of the mountain, and, facing eastward, 
with a shout of transport, we scaled the highest crest, and 
stood upon the summit of the Breithorn exactly at 
11 o'clock. If snow had rested upon the upper regions 
we should have scarcely required the ice-axe, and have 
sooner reached our goal ; but the gain would have been 
most likely counterbalanced by slower progress over the 
accumulated snows in the lower valleys. Neither fatigue 
nor shortness of breathing detracted from the enjoyment 
of contemplating a world of mountains — a true mountain 
map — that extended far and wide in all directions 
beneath our pinnacle, and burst upon us with no slight 
surprise. Who could behold such a panorama without 
emotion ? At first the eye was startled and bewildered, 
and, at a superficial glance, might right well have com- 
pared this vast mountain-picture with an angry sea, 
surging to and fro, in rocky white-crested billows, with the 
floating icebergs of northern waters. 

To the north the Oberland mountains were to be 
clearly distinguished, whilst to the east the eye swept as 
far as the Graubiinden and Tyrolese chain?, and embraced 

in the south the Lombardian plain, the blue-hazed 
Apennines, and caught the faint, air-reflected silvershine 
of the Mediterranean, followed from south to west by the 
Maritime, the Cottian, Grraian, and Pennine Alps, with a 
dim glimpse of the Pyrenees. The most conspicuous 
object in the west was the towering mass of Mont Blanc, 
discernible with all his aiguilles and glaciers. Even 
here, most likely owing to the singular transparency of the 
atmosphere, his stupendous magnitude, disputed by none 
of his compeers, impressed me with the truth, that he is 
the Monarch of European mountains. Eising from vast 
glaciers, piercing the storm-cloud, gilded the foremost by 
the earliest morning ray, and flushed the latest by the 
parting day, wrapt in his silver robe he reposes, calm and 
cold, in all the majesty of his adamantine strength! The 
summit on which we stood formed a kind of crest on 
which two or three abreast could safely approach the east- 
ern extremity, whence a steep descent leads to the second 
crest; beyond it appeared Castor and Pollux, the latter 
below us, the former somewhat higher. I must confess to 
being disappointed in the appearance of Monte Eosa; 
its colossal mass is rivalled by the gigantic mountain- 
wall of the Lyskamm, which it overbrows by little more 
than 300 feet. The northern flank of the Breithorn has a 
severe snow-slope, abutting upon an inaccessible vertical 
wall ; its southern side is the one we ascended, whilst the 
western precipices overhang the Petit Mont Cervin, 
nearly one thousand feet below us. The great Matterhom, 
whose eastern buttress we fronted, presented itself in singular 
and incomparable form, an object of general attraction, 
enhanced by the defiance it has flung to the boldest 
mountaineer to dare its inaccessible crown. Viewed from 
Zermatt, and still more from the Eympfischschwung, 
it gave me the impression of a reposing sphinx ; but I 

VOL. I. 

A A 


never could realise Ruskin's comparison of a " rearing 

So sin-nlarly beautiful was the day, that the panorama 
well mi-ht be described in the poet's words, " ringed and 
roofed in azure ; " yet whilst the Swiss mountains m then- 
northern air stood out in bold relief, as if carved by 
the chisel of the sculptor, the soft south had thrown 
an undefinable charm over it. Alpine world, meltmg the 
sharp outlines into purple haze, and thus rendering the 
contrast between the two regions most marked. 

The -uides had spread on the snow our frugal meal ; 
and ha^ng satisfied nature's demands, I arranged my 
apparatus for ascertaining our altitude, an operation m 
which Taugwalder gave useful assistance. The air was 
perfectly still; the thermometer indicated 37-4° F.; and by 
comparing the barometer of the Observatory of Geneva 
with the results of Galton's hypsometer (which gave the 
boilincr-point at 188° F.), I obtained an altitude of 13,792 
Enc'lidi feet. We had hitherto enjoyed a cloudless sky, 
marred neither by haze nor floating vapour ; but during the 
last quarter of an hour we observed light clouds scattered 
here and there upon the Piedmontese peaks. Some of these 
air-sailers rested like ascending vapours upon the highest 
summits, giving them the appearance of active volcanoes, 
whilst others floated like balloons from crest to crest. In 
directing my attention to a light vaporous cloud, I observed 
it gradually dissolve in the air, then again appear in an 
altered form,- the result of solution and condensation, as 
Lot and cold air-currents struck the mountain I never 
experienced so sudden a change in the atmosphere w.thm 
one hour; and ere we descended most of the southern were covered with heavy cumuli. We regretted we 
could not prolong our stay beyond an hour; but that hour 
aff-orded infinite gratification, and stored memory s gallery 
with pictures ineflaceal)le. 



The guides, after having picked up the few traps, placed 
us in the former marching order; and with the same 
allowance of cord between us, and under a warm meridian 
sun, we began to descend at 12 o'clock. By an oversight 
we had turned too much in an easterly direction and lost 
our old foot-track, so we had to cut new steps. Groing down 
a steep and hard snow-slope, with ominous-lookingcrevasses 
in front, is somewhat nervous work. Every step demands 
the greatest caution, as neither toes nor heels afford the 
usual support ; but the sides of the feet, edged into newly- 
cut ridges two or three inches deep, are the pivots on 
which the balance of the body depends. In such moments 
the assistance of a good alpenstock is keenly felt, and no 
one ought to venture on such slopes who has not a steady 
eye and head. Grradually and safely we approached again 
the great crevasse, but now at a point where the snow was 
more unsafe than before. A spring was by no means ad- 
visable on a steep and hard snow descent, and young Taug- 
walder prepared to slide over it on his back, well supported 
by the rope, but his father counselled otherwise. The 
strongest staffs, with the ice-axes, were corded together and 
placed upon the frail snow-bridge ; and by means of this 
temporary construction we safely gained the opposite side. 
We soon reached the snow, which we now found im- 
pressible to the feet ; and as no crevasses intervened 
between us and the base of the declivity, we prepared for 
the exhilarating velocity of a glissade. A fair length of 
cord was allowed, a whoop was given as a signal for the 
start, and away we went in gallant style, sliding into the 
snow-basin beneath in an incredibly short time. All now 
was plain sailing : released from our bondage we walked 
with long and vigorous strides down the snow- terraces to 
the St. Theodule col. Here we rested for half an hour. 
How different from the morning scene! Guides and 

A A 2 





travellers had disappeared, stillness and desolation had 
resumed their sway. And yet even here the words rose to 
my lips — 

" Tliis is not solitude : 'tis but to hold 
Converse with nature's charms, and view her stores unroll'd. 

The noble grouping of towering snow-mountains, the 
vast ponderous snow-fields, the wonderful glaciers, the 
chequered atmospheric illuminations, are so many stores of 
nature, which excite a thoughtful mind to contemplation, 
and lend a peculiar charm even to these wastes. 

We could now command the entire attention of the man 
of the hut, so we ordered an infusion of coffee ; and never 
tasted the fragrant Arabian bean more refreshing, though 
whether it might have obtained the same verdict under 
other circumstances is somewhat questionable. Having 
offered our obolus to the serving-man, whose aspect 
betokened an intimate acquaintance with dulness, my 
companion, m. D. Howe, shouldered his knapsack, and 
with a hearty wring of the hand we parted, he down to the 
south, to the valley of Tournanche, and I northward to 
Zermatt. As I lingered for a moment at the highest point 
of the col, contemplating, probably for the last time, the 
wonderfully stern grandeur around me, I perceived on the 
loner sweep of the St. Theodule glacier an actually beaten 
tra^k,— a high road. No fresh snow had fallen for some 
time,'and this° combined with the fine weather, had allured 
many travellers into this region. From our elevated po- 
sition on the Breithorn we saw them passing and repassmg 

in long files. 

A-reeable as our morning ascent had been, we found 
the r^'eturn by no means so pleasant at this hour of the 
day The heat of the sun rendered the surface slippery, 
which wa^ now channeled by a thousand rills and streamlets: 



nor were the heavens very promising; a heavy cloud pro- 
jected from the crest of the Matterhorn, and long cloud- 
bands swathed the mountain- walls. 

As we left the glacier we were greeted on its very verge 
by welcome tokens of life : the Ranunculus nivalis shed its 
silver ray upon this dreary waste, and further on the 
Gentiana glacialis and nivalis gemmed sundry little nooks 
with the light of their blue petals. The flowers of the 
Gentian tribe and those of many other Alpine plants 
were unusually rare at this period, having passed into 
seed, owing to the long-continued heat and drought. 

We now sped over some old moraines, reached the rock- 
ledges near the Gorner glacier, and passed the wood of 
the Zmutt valley. The wind, which had risen in fitful 
gusts, now grew in strength and bent the hoary Arven, 
whose long barbated branches floated like streamers in the 
agitated air. Onwards we strode. The sight of the 
beautiful meadows, as they slope valleyward over ter- 
races and knolls, gladdened our hearts; and as we 
stepped upon their emerald carpets, the eye, so long 
tried by the intense snow -light, felt a grateful relief. 
And now we neared Zermatt. For some time it had 
greeted us with its hospitable roofs. Long lines of cattle 
drew homeward from the Zmutt valley, and their me- 
lodious chimes mingled pleasingly with the distant sound 
of the belfry tower. Scattered groups of peasants, and 
even the cure in his long flowing robe, were busily en- 
gaged securing the fragrant hay against the approaching 


At 4.30 P.M., after an absence of 13h. 15m., we 
entered the comfortable hotel of Monte Kosa, heartily 
welcomed by its excellent host. I heard the wind roaring 
along the great rock-walls, and not long after the thunder 
reverberated in the deep mountain recesses. But it was 




a charmed season. The clouds broke and dispersed, and 
at eventide the stars shone with gentle, peaceful lustre, 
heralding a bright to-morrow. 

The foregoing description of the ascent of the Breithorn 
is not intended to convey the idea that I am the first 
by whom it has been accomplished. Several members of 
the Alpine Club had preceded me at an earlier period 
of this season. The Eev. J. F. Hardy acted as guide to a 
party of friends, and, although the mountain was entirely 
unknown to him, succeeded in conducting them successfuly 

to the summit. 

My object has been to link this description to that of 
other ascents in the neighbourhood of Monte Kosa, and 
thus to perfect the delineation of that range. I ascended 
the Breithorn under perhaps more severe conditions than 
usual, as the great heat of the season had condensed the 
snows of the upper regions into almost solid ice. 

■ 1* 


Bv William Mathkws, Jun., M.A. 

The season of 1859 will not easily be forootten \>y any 
traveller who had the good fortune to visit the high Alps 
in the autumn of that year. The long-continued summer 
drought had made me apprehensive of a wet August, but 
the mountain weather of that month, although surpassed 
by its unexampled loveliness in 1861, was on the whole 
extremely brilliant, and finer than I had ever before 
experienced among the Alps. The heat had thoroughly 
RoUdified the elevated snow-fields, and rendered them 
to traverse ; while it had made the steeper slopes hard 
and glassy, and the crevasses more than usually wide and 
difficult. The same cau-se had advanced by at least a 



fortnight the flowering of the Alpine vegetation, and when 
I reached the mountains its too fleeting beauty was 
already on the wane. 

On the 1st of August, 1859, my brother, Mr. Gr. S. Mathews, 
and I left London in the company of the Eev. Leslie 
Stephen, with whom we had arranged to have a few days' 
mountaineering in the Bernese Oberland, before he 
joined his travelling companion, Mr. Hinchliff. At Inter- 
laken we picked up our guides, Jean Baptiste Croz and 
Michel Charlet of Chamounix, the former an old and 
trusty friend, the latter a man of comparatively second- 
rate qualifications, whom I had somewhat unwillingly 
accepted at the instance of Auguste Simond. Auguste 
did not feel strong enough to accompany me himself, 
and recommended Charlet in his stead, characterising him 
as a man " qui n^aimaitjpasfaire des depenses inutiles^'' — 
a phrase which Croz translated into, " il se pendrait pour 
six sot(s." However, I am bound to say for Charlet, that 
he never flinched from his work, and that he went throusfh 
a great deal of exertion without a murmur, although he 
did not hesitate to express a preference for the society of 
ladies at a lower elevation. 

After spending a delightful week in the Bernese Ober- 
land, during which my brother was introduced to the high 
Alps in the exciting expedition described by Mr. Stephen 
in another part of this volume, we arrived on the 10th 
at Kandersteg, where we took leave of that zealous and 
accomplished mountaineer. We then proceeded by forced 
marches to Zinal, whence we made, by the head of the 
Turtmann glacier, the first attempt to reach the summit of 
the Weisshorn, — an enterprise which, though it did not 
succeed, was not without its value, since it wjxs the means of 
demonstrating the impossibility of traversing the northern 
arete. J'oiled in this, the principal object of our journey^ 



and acting upon a suggestion made by Mr. Ball in a note to 
Mr. Hinchliffs paper on the Trift in the 1st Series of 
" Peaks, Passes, and Glaciers," we determined upon trying 
to effect a passage to Zermatt by the depression in the ridge 
between the Dent Blanche and the Grabelhorn. This'spot 
was the only piece of snow-scenery visible from the inn 
at Zinal, and it had a highly alluring appearance. 

The undertaking was signally successful. We quitted 
Zinal at 4.20 on the morning of the 17th, gained the 
col at 11.45, and, descending the Hochwang glacier, 
arrived at 12.45 at some rocks on its left bank, which 
turned out to be the summit of the Ebihorn. The 
descent to the Zmutt glacier appearing easy, the day's 
work was virtually accomplished ; and we halted an 
hour for dinner. Of all the points of view in the vicinity 
of Zermatt, unrivalled as it is in the number and beauty of 
its panoramas, for near mountain scenery I unhesitatingly 
give the palm to this position. On our right was the 
Col d'Erin, from which the great Zmutt glacier flowed 
down beneath our feet towards the valley of Zermatt; 
eastwards we looked up the ice-streams of Plndelen and 
Grorner to the pass of the Weiss Thor, while opposite to us, 
bathed in the full light of the midday sun, was every peak 
of the Pennine chain from the Dent d'Erin to the Strahl- 
horn. Kapt in the beauties of this glorious scene, my 
eye wandered from mountain to glacier, until it rested 
upon the untrodden ice-field filling the vast hollow be- 
tween Monte Kosa and the Lyskamm, and I began to 
speculate whether it were possible to effect a passage 
among the wilderness of seracs which appeared to con- 
stitute its lower portions. At the summit of the glacier 
was a snow-saddle, connecting the two mountains, and it 
suddenly occurred to me that this must be the very spot 
reached by Zunistein many years ago in his ascents from 

f •■■ 





the soutliern side of the peak which bears his name. I 
had not then read the account of his interesting expedi- 
tions, but it was clear that we could descend by the route 
he had taken. As we were about to enter Zermatt by one 
new pass, we thought we could not do better than quit it 
by another ; so we at once resolved to attempt to force the 
passage of the Monte Eosa glacier, and cross the col to 


We reached Zermatt without difficulty early in the 
evening ; and after an agreeable sojourn of three days at 
the excellent hotel of M. Seller, we proceeded to put our 
project into execution. We judged our two guides amply 
sufficient for the expedition, provided they were not over- 
burdened, and we accordingly sent our knapsacks by spe- 
cial messenger over the St. Theodule to Chatillon, intend- 
ing to pick them up there on our way to Mont Blanc. 

On the morning of the 21st we strolled quietly up to 
the Eiffel, and passed a delightful afternoon on the 
Gornergrat and Eiffelhorn, making a careful survey of the 
crround to be crossed on the morrow. The ascent of the 
Eiffelhorn is amply repaid by the splendid view it affords 
of the Gorner glacier, from its origin in the snows of 
Monte Eosa to within a short distance of its extremity. 
This magnificent ice-field lay stretched like a map beneath 
our feet, and each of its constituent elements, resulting from 
the distinct tributary glaciers, could be traced with the ut- 
most precision. While studying the surface, I was surprised 
to observe a number of hollows, looking like huge cauldrons 
sunk into the ice. I counted no less than eight-and- 
twenty of these singular depressions, arranged along two 
lines parallel to the length of the glacier, and at about 
equal distances apart. They were all dry but one, which 
was filled with water of the most brilliant blue. I 
examined one on the following day : it had a rudely ellip- 



tical outline, and resembled the inside of a boat more than 
anything else I can compare it to. It was about thirty 
feet long, fifteen feet wide, and twelve feet deep, and had 
no orifice at the bottom. I have since discovered that 
these hollows have been described by Agassiz and Schla- 
gintweit, and that they are represented (but very poorly) 
in the plates of the Gorner glacier in the atlases attached 
to their respective works. The former writer calls them 
" entonnoirs " (funnels), and the latter by the equivalent 
German, " trichter.'' Agassiz, in a vague and unsatisfactory 
paragraph*, refers their origin to the union of surface 
rivulets charged with gravel, but Professor Tyndall, al- 
though not distinctly mentioning them, has, I think, given 
the real clue to their formation.f He adopts the theory 
of Agassiz, that moulins are produced by a fissure of the 
o-lacier crossing a surface stream, which then plunges into 
the crack and scoops out a shaft, and that this shaft is 
carried downwards by the motion of the glacier, until the 
ice is cracked again in the same place as before, and the 
moulin is reproduced above. In support of this view, 
Mr. Tyndall states that he has frequently seen several 
extinct moulins at equal distances apart in advance of the 
active one. Now let us suppose the nature of a glacier 
channel to be such, that the crevasse in which a moulin 
has originated begins to close before the new crack is 
formed above ; the water, checked in its descent, would 
naturally eddy at the mouth of the shaft, and produce such 
a hollow as those we see upon the Gorner. However it may 
be, these " entomioirs " merit careful study ; and I would 
especially direct the attention of travellers to the nature of 
their surfaces, whether even or exhibiting open or healed 
crevasses, to the direction of the long axes of their elliptic 

* " Etudes sur les Glaciers," p. o4. 

t " The Glaci«'rs of the Alps," pp. 362, 366. 



- '1 






margins, and to their position with respect to active 
moulins, upon all which points more information is needed. 

The Grorner glacier has another peculiarity which is 
deserving of mention. On looking along the largest 
medial moraine, it did not appear to be connected with 
any mountain ridge, but to issue directly from the middle 
of the snow, about half-way between the Gromergrat and 
the rock called Ob dem See. I presume tliat this moraine 
really originates in one of the northern spurs of Monte 
Kosa, and that its upper portion is smothered by the 
masses of snow which descend from the ridge between the 
Nord End and the Cima. 

On returning to the Eiffel we made the necessary dis- 
positions for the morrow, ordered our guides to call us at 
1.30 A.M., and retired to rest in full confidence of the conti- 
nuance of fine weather and of consequent success. On the 
morning of the 23rd, Croz knocked at our door two hours 
. later than the appointed time, and on coming downstairs 
we found a clouded sky and a strong south wind, sure 
har])ingers of bad weather in the Alps. The deplorable 
accident, by which an unfortunate Kussian gentleman had 
lost his life in a crevasse on the Findelen glacier a few 
days before, appeared to have completely unnerved Seller, 
and he implored us to defer our excursion in such impor- 
tunate language that I scarcely knew what to do. As I 
never like to start against the judgment of the guides, I 
referred the matter to Croz, who after some little hesita- 
tion decided on postponement. We sat down to breakfast 
in the deepest chagrin, expecting to be kept at the Eiffel 
several days, and to have, after all, to follow our knapsacks 
over the St. Theodule to Chatillon. Such is the fickle- 
ness of Alpine weather, that by the time our meal was 
finished the wind had changed and was blowing directly 
from the north ; in a few minutes every particle of cl(»u(l 



had disappeared, and the morning brightened into as fair a 
day as ever lighted up the Alps. 

It was now too late for Grressoney, but it did not require 
many minutes' consideration to fix upon a suitable excur- 
sion. The guides were instantly summoned, provisions 
hastily stowed into knapsacks, Seller complimented in the 
most amiable manner upon his prophetic foresight, and at 
5.30 A.M. we were en route for the Cima. It would be 
out of place here to dilate upon the panorama afforded by 
this celebrated peak ; I shall merely say, that it would be 
impossible to imagine more favourable atmospheric con- 
ditions than those under which we beheld it, and that the 
Italian view was perfectly clear, and of inconceivable love- 
liness. While walking along the base of the Grornergrat 
on our return, we came upon a little rocky knoll, covered 
with cushions of the star gentian, each studded with count- 
less flowers, expanded in the noon-day sun. I gathered 
one of the flowers and held it up against the sky. The 
colour of the sky was very nearly the same tint as the 
gentian blue, and of a depth and tenderness which defies 

We regained the Eiffel exactly at 2 p.m., and felt almost 
grateful to Seller for our charming excursion. We found 
the hotel crowded by a party, or rather cluster of parties, 
enticed by the extraordinary brilliance of the weather to 
make the ascent of Monte Eosa. 

We spent the evening in strolling on the slopes of the 
Eiffel, and w^atching the exquisite beauty of the sunset. 
Long after the Alpine glow had faded from the chain of 
Monte Eosa, the Bietsch-horn, rising up beyond the Ehone, 
opposite the opening of the valley of St. Nicholas, was 
tinted delicate violet ; there was not a speck of cloud in 
the sky nor a breath of wind stirring; and all nature 
seemed reposing in deepest peace and tranquillity. 











At 2 o'clock on the morning of the 23rd we were up 
and dressed, and on descending to the salle found the 
Monte Rosa company ah-eady assembled at breakfa^. As 
it is necessary to walk in single file along the path which 
leads to the Gorner glacier, and a large party always 
causes delay, it was important to start first, and at 2.50 
our small band of four was under weigh, followed by a 
line of five-and-twenty people. We at once struck into 
quick march, notwithstanding the cries of some guides 
behind, who, supposing our destination was the same as 
theirs, shouted to us to go more slowly. The path along 
the Riffelberg is troublesome enough to follow in the day- 
time, interrupted as it is by landslips in not a few places. 
After a good deal of stumbling we reached the ice at 3.55, 
and turned our faces towards the centre of the opening 
between the lowest spurs of Monte Rosa and the Lyskamm. 
Nothing could exceed the fascination of the scene. The 
sky was clear and beautifully starlight, the moon two-thirds 
upon the wane, and the brilliant planet Jupiter shining 
on either side of the Cima, above the old and the new 
Weiss Thor ; while behind the peaks of Monte Rosa Orion's 
giant form was slowly climbing upwards. From the Cima 
in the east, to the Matterhorn in the west, lay a field of 
ice and snow twelve miles in length, bounded on the south 
by the barrier of well-remembered summits, glimmering 
with shadowy and almost dream-like vagueness in the faint 
light of the moon. 

As I anticipated an unclouded sunrise, I noted carefully 
the successive changes in the appearance of the sky and 
mountains. At 4 o'clock the light of dawn began to 
creep over the old Weiss Thor, and to cast shadows upon 
the ice, and in a few minutes more those cast by the moon 
could no longer be distinguished. The western stars, which 
had formed a glittering coronet to the Matterhorn, now dis- 



appeared ; but it was not until twenty minutes^ later that 
those in the east, which I should have imagined would have 
been first extinguished, had ceased to shine. Hitherto the 
many moonlit snow-peaks beyond the Gorner glacier had 
looked scarcely more substantial than floating clouds ; but 
when the eastern stars had vanished, and the morning glow 
</rew stronger, the Twins and Lyskamm began to assume 
the appearance of reality, and to shine yellow-white ; while 
Monte Rosa, which was in complete shadow, was the coldest 
blue. At 4.30 a zone of deep blue circled round the 
western horizon, surmounted by one of lurid red, with 
pale blue sky above, while the lower zone, gradually dis- 
appearing, gave place to the deepening red. At 4.40 the 
summit of the Matterhorn was touched with the pink flush 
of sunrise ; a few moments more, and the Lyskamm and the 
Breithorn had caught the glow : the crimson colour spread 
gradually over them, changed suddenly to golden yellow, 
and then faded into the common hues of day. Meanwhile 
tlie lurid red in the west slowly disappeared, and the sky 
crradually deepened into the intensest blue, supported all 
round the horizon by a zone of pale lemon-grey. I could 
not make out with certainty when the sun touched the 
Hochste Spitze or Nord End,— we were too completely on 
their western side. 

At 4.45 we were fairly across the Gorner, and in the mid 
stream of the Monte Rosa glacier, off the rock called " Auf 
der Platte," and, looking back, saw the cavalcade, some- 
what disunited, advancing towards that point. The real 
work of the day was now commencing. Near the junction 
of the main and tributary streams the glacier channel is 
contracted, and the ice is riven by complicated systems 
of cross crevasses, dividing it into the blocks and pin- 
nacles known as seracs, and which here, in their fan- 
tastic forms and gigantic proportions, vied with, if they 

I m 



did not surpass, the celebrated scenery of the Col du Geant. 
A Chamounix guide is always at home on the ice ; and Croz 
led the way, axe in hand, almost as if he had known 
the glacier from his childhood. Few occupations are so 
fascinating to a mountaineer as fighting his upward way 
through difficulties such as we had to contend with, and 
where each step is like a move at chess,— not to be made 
without considering its effect upon what is to follow. 
But the most delightful episode in this part of the expe- 
dition was afforded when, all other means of advance 
appearing hopeless, Croz boldly cut his way down to the 
bottom of a crevasse, and we walked along it for a con- 
siderable distance. It formed a long corridor with vertical 
walls, rising, in some places, twenty feet above our heads, 
alitterinf^ with delicate tints of green, fringed at the top 
with pendent icicles, and roofed over by the deep blue sky. 
This gave us an excellent opportunity of examining the 
stratification of the glacier,— a phenomenon to be carefully 
distinguished from the veined structure developed by 
pressure, usually at lower levels. The snow was disposed 
in layers parallel to the surface of the glacier, varying 
from a few inches in thickness to as many feet, and 
divided from one another by thin discoloured bands. 
These layers are generally considered as annual snow- 
falls, and some of them may probably have been so ; but 
it is obvious that a glacier may receive a coating of snow, 
which may subsequently be discoloured, more than once 

a year. 

At 6.45 we were well out of the seracs, and halted for 
breakfast. The part of the glacier yet remaining to traverse 
rose up before us like a marble staircase, walled in on 
either side by frowning precipices of dark rock. Those of 
the Lyskamm on the right were seamed by ice couloirs, 
and crowned by threatening masses of snow, discharging 



avalanches in quick succession with a noise like the rattle 
of musketry. Looking to the left, we discerned the Monte 
Kosa party like a line of black specks against the sky, and 
recognised the ringing voice of Lauener, who shouted as 
he went along. Our resting-place gave us a view of the 
Matterhorn very different from that presented in the 
vicinity of Zermatt, a huge flat-topped buttress appearing 
to support the mountain on the south. Bees, butterflies, 
and other insects are frequently seen at very considerable 
elevations, but almost close to our breakfast-place we found 
a stranger entomological curiosity. This was a great hawk- 
moth, lying dead upon the ice, — I believe Sphinx Con- 
volvuli^ or a closely-allied species. 

At 7.15 we were off again, and made splendid progress; 
the snow was in perfect order, its surface hard and crisp, 
and rough enough to prevent the feet from slipping. In 
the upper part of the glacier are crevasses and snow-grottos 
of amazing size and beauty ; happily they were all bridged, 
and there was not even danger enough to necessitate the 
use of the rope. The whole glacier surface was frosted 
together into a rigid mass, and was as yet untouched by 
the rays of the sun, — the gi-eat wall of Monte Eosa having 
hitherto extended over us its friendly shade. The Hochste 
Spitze was soon passed ; after it the Zumstein Spitze ; and 
we then arrived at the base of the Signal Kuppe, and 
hesitated a few moments as to the route we ought to take. 
We had the choice of three cols, each apparently leading 
across the rim of the great snow-basin of the glacier. 
■ The col immediately in front of us connected the Signal 
Kuppe with a snow-peak on the right, which looked so 
insignificant that we had no idea it was another of the 
summits of Monte Kosa. The other two were situated 
between this peak and the Lyskamm, and were separated 
from one another by a low dome of snow. I had not with 

YOL. I. B B 


■ »9 

I* *. 



me Schlagintweit's map, which, although grievously in- 
correct in many particulars, would have been a great 
assistance ; but I knew that the four northern peaks of the 
mountain lay along a line making an obtuse angle with 
the five southern ones,-the Signal Kuppe occupying the 
an<nilar point,- and that the Lys glacier was nearly at right 
angles to that of Monte Rosa. It was clear, therefore, 
although the first col looked the most tempting, that our 
course°was to turn sharply to the right, and pass as near 
to the Lyskamm as possible. But the col nearest to that 
mountain was cut off from us by an impassable crevasse, 
so we were forced to take the middle route. In a few 
minutes we had gained the ridge : the insignificant peak 
on our left was no other than the Parrot Spitze ; somewhat 
in advance of it was the Ludwigshohe, and before us, on 
the south, the snow-slopes of the Lys glacier. From the 
crest of the col we wound round to the right, climbed the 
dome of snow, and at 9.30 exactly we were standing upon 

its summit. 

We were now on the highest point of the plateau of snow, 
which, stretching from the Lyskamm to the Parrot Spitze, 
divides the Monte Rosa from the Lys glaciers, and Switzer- 
land from Italy. On the 3 1 st of July, 1 820, nine-and-thirty 
years before, Zumstein and ten companions had passed 
the nioht in a creva-sse not many yards distant from the 
spot wliere we were standing. The view in the immediate 
foreground was highly interesting. Westward, a long and 
narrow arete of mingled rock and snow led up to the sum- 
mit of the Lyskamm. Between the highest point of that 
mountain and a subordinate shoulder on the south, which 
terminates in the promontory of the Nase, Mont Blanc 
just peered above the hollow, and formed a picture of 
singular quaintness. Northward, we looked do^vn upon 
the great basin of the Monte Rosa glacier, enclosed on the 



left by the arete of the Lyskamm, and on the right by the 
Signal Kuppe, the Zumstein, and the Hochste Spitze; 
the black dots were still climbing along the edge of the 
latter, which presented a broad rugged wall of rock that 
entirely masked the Nord End. Southwards, beyond the 
Parrot Spitze on our left, the chain of peaks was con- 
tinued by the Ludwigshohe and the Schwarzhorn; the 
Vincent Pyramid, the top of which is not so high as the 
plateau, was, I believe, wholly invisible. 

The distant view was still more charming, and on the 
north was absolutely cloudless, comprising all the moun- 
tain ranges in the vicinity of Zermatt, and extending to 
the Wildstrubel, Altels, and Blumlis Alp, far away across 
the Rhone. In the south-west, the eye rested upon the 
matrnificent cluster of the Graian Alps, at that time almost 
unknown : conspicuous among their many summits were 
the vast mass of the Grand Paradis, and the still more 
striking pyramid of the Grivola. Little did we think that 
two members of the Alpine Club were at the very 
moment climbing up it. In the south-east we ought to 
have looked upon the far-stretching plain of Piedmont, 
and even distinguished the houses in Turin; but a 
dense layer of white cloud was spread out horizontally 
before us, hiding Italy from view, and pierced only by the 
rugged peak of Monte Viso, which shot up through it a hun- 
dred miles away. What mountaineer could resist such a 
sight? I gazed with admiration on the noble pinnacle, and 
resolved that, if health and strength permitted, I would one 
day try to climb it. " If it were clear," said Croz, " we 
should see the Mediterranean;" and perhaps he was right. 
Grenoa was only twenty miles farther off than Monte Viso, 
which was remarkably distinct, and we might have seen as 
far, unless the prospect were bounded by the Ligurian 
Apennines or Maritime Alps. 

B B 2 









I carried no barometer in 1861, and a sympiesometer, 
by Adie, which I had with me, in consequence of a defect 
in construction had long ceased to be of use. As the only 
means of approximating to the height of the plateau, I 
moimted a pocket-level on the top of an alpenstock, and 
endeavoured to connect our position with a peak of known 
height. After several trials, I found that the optic axis 
of the instrument passed through the summit of the Roth- 
horn. The bearing of this observation on the determi- 
nation of the height will be discussed hereafter. 

We had so much time before us that the propriety of 
climbing some neighbouring peak was not long in sug- 
gesting itself. The arete of the Lyskamm did not look 
encouraging, but we could, with very little labour, have 
walked up to the top of the Parrot Spitze, and looked over 
into the Val Sesia. Croz, however, was averse to any such 
proceeding, alleging that, with an unknown glacier before 
us, our first duty was to secure our descent. I was at the 
time under the erroneous impression that Zumstein had 
encountered tremendous obstacles in his excursions, so that 
I acquiesced in the wisdom of the advice. I have never 
ceased to regret the excess of prudence, as I thereby lost 
an opportunity of examining the Italian side of the saddle 
between the Parrot Spitze and Signal Kuppe, and of ascer- 
taining whether it would be possible to effect a passage 
across it direct from Alagna to the Riifel. 

At 9.30 we roped ourselves together and commenced 
the descent. We found the slopes of the Lys glacier very 
different from those on the other side. Hitherto we had 
walked in the shade almost all the way to the plateau ; 
we had now to traverse a snow-field softened by the 
morning sun, and producing a glare so blinding, that veil 
and spectacles combined were a very insufficient protection. 
We ran merrily downwards, often up to the knees in wet 

snow, and occasionally plunging waist-deep into concealed 
crevasses. Passing the Vincent Pyramid, we made for a 
ridge of rock below, separated from that peak by the snow- 
slope which connects the neve of the Lys glacier with that 
of the Garstelet. The rock was found to be the Hohelicht 
We landed on it at 11.15, flung off the rope, and called a 
halt for dinner. 

We had another charming view from this position, the 
Combin and Velan having come into sight, and the noble 
mass of Mont Blanc towering proudly upwards at the ex- 
tremity of the Val d'Aosta. The Italian valleys at our feet 
were filled with clouds, but we could just see underneath 
the roof of mist which covered the Val de Lys, and trace the 
line of the silver Lys, winding through meadows of delicious 
green. Being all of us unacquainted with the southern 
side of Monte Rosa, we were in some doubt as to our 
downward course. Southward, the view was completely 
intercepted by the main ridge of the Hohelicht, which rose 
several hundred feet above our heads ; far down below, 
upon the right, was the Lys glacier, apparently very steep, 
and much crevassed and broken, and on the left flowed the 
glacier of Grarstelet, presenting a gentle and unfissured snow- 
slope, terminated by some easy rocks. The latter route 
was at once chosen. At 12.15 we were off again : a swift 
glissade carried us over the snow, and we walked without 
difficulty down the rocks. We ought to have continued 
in the same direction to the Indren and Gabiet Alps, and 
thence by the path leading from the Col d'Ollen into the 
main valley at Edelboden. But, fearing we were in a 
branch of the Val Sesia, we crossed the Salzia Furke on 
our right, and descended upon the chalet of Cour de Lys, 
close to the termination of the Lys glacier,— a detour which 
probably lengthened our journey nearly an hour. We 
arrived at this spot at 1.30, and, soon starting off again, 





worthily concluded our excursion by a delightful walk 
down one of the loveliest of the Italian valleys of the 

It would be impossible to conceive a change more com- 
plete than that which we experienced in passing from the 
north to the south of the great Alpine chain. We had left 
in the morning the chill atmosphere and barren rocks of the 
Eiffel, and we were now enjoying the soft climate of Italy 
and the exquisite verdure and beautiful scenery of the Val 
de Lys. Lofty cliff and noble pine forest, and foaming 
torrent, and huge erratic blocks, islands in a sea of green, 
are here thrown together by the hand of nature in ex- 
haustless variety and profusion ; and the effect of all this 
natural beauty is increased by the apparent comfort of the 
dwellings, and the bright and picturesque costume of the in- 
habitants. We passed La Trinite at three, and in another 
hour reached Gressoney St. Jean, with its cluster of white 
houses and elegant Italian campanile, situated in the midst 
of verdant meadows, on the banks of the foaming Lys. 
W^e walked through the little town, and exactly at 4.15 
stepped into the comfortable Pension Delapierre, where we 
were warmly received by the proprietor, who displayed such 
rapture at the account of our excursion, that v/e thought 
he must discern certain commercial advantages from the 
opening of the new col. We were not a little gratified at 
the complete success of the expedition, and at the unex- 
pected rapidity with which it had been performed. In 
little more than thirteen hours we had made the first 
traverse of the loftiest pass in Europe, at least 1000 feet 
higher than any passage previously effected across the 
Alpine chain, by a route conducting the traveller past 
every one of the nine peaks of Monte Kosa, and rich in 
scenery of the most magnificent and varied character. If 
the pass were taken in the opposite direction, it would be 



wise to sleep on the Hohelicht, where acabane ought to be 
erected, as it would be important to descend the Monte 
Eosa glacier before its surface became softened by the 
morning sun. Could we have counted upon such a camp- 
ing place, I believe we could before nightfall have scored 
off all the peaks between the Zumstein Spitze and the Vin- 
cent Pyramid. 

About the time of this excursion, the Eev. S. W. and 
Mrs. King were enjoying the hospitality of the Baron 
Peccoz at his hunting chalet at Salzen near to the Lys 
glacier, where Delapierre brought them tidings of the 
fact, that two Englishmen had reached Gressoney from 
the Eiffel, by way of the snow plateau between Monte 
Eosa and the Lyskanmi. At this absurd announcement, 
the Baron burst into a hearty fit of laughter, evidently 
relishing the joke that Delapierre had been made the 
victim of such a hoax. Vain were the assurances of 
Mr. King that English gentlemen always spoke the truth : 
the fam^d chasseur declared that he knew the glacier of 
his own mountain intimately, and that the thing asserted 
to have been done was absolutely impossible. At length 
Mr. King suggested, that if the passage had really been 
made, some traces of it would probably be still remaining, 
and the Baron consequently started next day for the Hohe- 
licht, for the purpose of proving that such was not the 
case. On arriving at the spot, the deep furrow we had 
ploughed through the snow was still plainly visible, and 
therr was no denying the fact that a passage, unknown 
even to so great a hunter, had been effected on his own 
domain. When Mr. King returned to Gressoney, the 
report he heard was that the guides had dragged their 
weary steps into the village an hour or two after the tra- 
vellers, completely knocked up. 

Before discussing the nomenclature and altitude of the 






new pass, a brief history of the first ascent of Monte Eosa 
from the south will not be out of place. 

The plateau was first reached in the year 1778* by 
seven chasseurs of Gressoney, under the guidance of 
Nicholas Vincent, the father of the first ascender of the 
Vincent Pyramid. There was a tradition that a fertile 
valley of the Valais, called the Hohenlauben, had been 
suddenly enclosed by the advance of a glacier, and so 
shut out from mankind. The chasseurs, incited bv an 
old priest, undertook to search for it, and imagined they 
had discovered it when, on arriving at the plateau, they 
looked do\\Ti upon the valley of Zermatt. They repeated 
the expedition in 1779 and 1780. From that year to 
1819 nothing more was done. On the 5th of Auoust in 
the last-named year, Nicholas Vincent ascended the peak 
which has since borne his name. On August 10th the 
ascent was repeated by ]\I. Bernfaller, canon of the Great 
St. Bernard, who was at the time in parochial charge of 
Gressoney La Trinite. On the 12th the summit was a 
third time reached by Joseph Zumstein and Nicholas 
Vincent. On July 3 1 st, 1820, Zumstein with two Vincents, 
an engineer from Turin named Molinatti, and guides and 
porters, making in all eleven, spent the night in a crevasse 
on the plateau, and the following morning made the first 
ascent of the Zumstein Spitze. In the above expeditiona 
Zumstein and Vincent had passed the first night near 
the base of the Stollenberg, which entailed upon them 
an unnecessary traverse of the Garstelet glacier. In 
1821 Zumstein shortened the journey by camping on 
the Hohelicht, and on Aug. 2nd in that year he made 
his second ascent of the Zumstein Spitze. On the 2oth 

♦ Von Welden, "Der Monte Rosa," Wien, 1824, pp. 123, 124. Com- 
pare also Saussure, *' Voyages dans les Alpes," vol iv. p. 373, § 2156, 
who, however, places the incident in 1783. 



of the same month Von Welden climbed the peak which 
from his christian name is called Ludwigs-Hohe. On 
July 12th, 1822, Zumstein made his fourth journey, in 
which, after gaining the plateau, he was forced to retreat 
by bad weather. On the 1st of August he was more 
successful, and on that day he made his third and last 
ascent of the Zumstein Spitze. 

The next actor upon the scene is Signer Giovanni Gni- 
fetti, the cure of Magna, who in 1834 opened the trenches 
against the Signal Kuppe, and whose expeditions were 
made, like Zumstein's, by way of the Lys glacier and the 
plateau. On the 27th of July, after nearly reaching the 
summit, he was driven back by bad weather. His second 
attempt, July 28th and 29th, 1836, was not more for- 
tunate, as he was stopped for want of an ice-axe within 
half an hour of the top. The third attempt, August 12th 
and 13th, 1839, was frustrated by bad weather before he 
gained the plateau, and it was not until his fourth journey, 
August 8th and 9th, 1843, that his enterprise was crowned 
with success. The worthy cure appears to have gone 
about his work in a very deliberate ma,nner, as it took 
him just nine years to climb a single peak.* 

The ascent of the Vincent Pyramid by the Messrs. 
Schlagintweit on September 12th, 1851, completes the ex- 
peditions from the south, so far as I have any knowledge 
of them. I do not know whether the Parrot Spitze has 
ever been climbed. 

On perusing the records of Zumstein's expeditions as 
they are recorded in the work of Von Welden, especially 
those undertaken from the Hohelicht, they appear to have 
been very straightforward pieces of business, and not to 
have involved danger or difficulty of any unusual kind. 

* " Nozioni topografiehe del Monte Rosa ed ascensioni su di esso di 
Giovanni Gnifetti, Faroco d'Alagna. Torino, 1845." 








The Nord End seems to have been entirely unknown to 
Zumstein, who completed the nine peaks of Monte Eosa 
by including the Lyskamm in the number. The space 
between that peak and the Parrot Spitze being thus a 
part of the mountain, was called by him the Grosses 
Plateau of Monte Eosa, a nomenclature in which he has 
been followed by Gnifetti and Schlagintweit. Now, 
however, that the Lyskamm is held to be a distinct moun- 
tain, the above term is somewhat inappropriate, and as 
it is unknown at Zermatt and rather cumbrous, it is 
necessary to choose a better name. I propose to call it 
the Col de Lys. It is true that the Lys glacier has two 
branches east and west of the Lyskamm, which unite 
into a common stream at the Nase. According to Zum- 
stein, the eastern and western affluents are the Salzia 
and Felik glaciers, while it is only the united stream that 
bears the name of Lys. I do not see, however, that later 
writers have adopted these terms, and if they had it would 
not affect the propriety of my designation. I have been 
informed that at Zermatt the col has been called the Silber 
Pass, a name which it is not desirable to perpetuate, as the 
ridge between the Hochste Spitze and Nord End has long 
been known as the Silber Sattel. 

The probable altitude of the pass is the next matter 
for consideration. Zumstein took barometrical observa- 
tions in all his excursions, and appears to have conducted 
them with considerable care. Most of his heights are 
the mean of the calculations from the three bases of 
Turin, Milan, and Ivrea. Unfortunately his observation 
on the Vincent Pyramid was affected by some special 
error, the resulting altitude being nearly 1000 English feet 
too great; a circumstance which has thrown undeserved 
suspicion on his other calculations. Singularly enough, 
although in going and returning he crossed the plateau 

eight times, he only made one observation upon it, whereas 
he made three upon the Zumstein Spitze, one at each 
visit. That on the plateau was taken July 31st, 1820, 
and gives an altitude of 14,100 English feet. The first 
observation on the Zumstein Spitze, taken the following 
May, gives 15,214 feet, 210 feet in excess of 15,004 feet, 
the recent trigonometrical determination of M. Betemps. 
The second and third calculations are 15,012 and 15,046 
feet respectively, and are very near the truth. 

The levelling operation I made upon the col showed 
that it was upon the same apparent level as the summit of 
the Eothhorn, a mountain about twelve miles distant. 
The height of this peak, as determined by M. Betemps, is 
13,852 English feet. The combined correction for curva- 
ture and refraction due to a distance of twelve miles is 
eighty-two feet, and, subtracting this from 13,852, we 
have 13,770 feet as the height of the col. It is clear, 
however, that a barometrical determination ought not to 
be impeached by so rough an observation as the one here 
described, made by an instrument without a telescope, 
and where a small deviation from horizontality would 
produce a very serious error in the result. Happily, we 
are in possession of a far more satisfactory check to Zum- 
stein's measurement, as I shall proceed to show. 

The passage of the Col de Lys once opened, other 
travellers w^ere not slow to take advantage of the new 
route. On August 13th, 1860, two parties ascended from 
the Eiffel to the head of the Monte Eosa glacier. The, 
first, consisting of the Eev. Leslie Stephen and Mr. Eobert 
Liveing, with Melchior Anderegg as guide, climbed the 
Zumstein Spitze, which had not been visited since Zum- 
stein's last ascent in 1822. The peak gave them no 
trouble, and they found the iron cross safe upon the top. 
The second party was composed of Messrs. E. B. Prest, 





J. L. Propert, and an American gentleman from Boston, 
Mr. J. K. Stone, with the guides Johann zum Taugwald, 
Moritz Andermatten, and one of the Simonds of Cha- 
mounix. These gentlemen made the passage to Gressoney, 
starting from the Eiffel at 3.45 a.m., reaching the plateau at 
10 A.M., and arriving at St. Jean at 4 p.m., thus accom- 
plishing the journey in twelve hours and a quarter, including 
a rest of half an hour on the col, and of an hour at the 
Hohelicht It will be observed that they effected the 
descent in three-quarters of an hour less time than we 
did, o win or to their havincr taken the shortest cut from 
the Hohelicht to Gressoney. On the 29th of the same 
month the Eev. T. G. Bonney and Mr. J. C. Hawkshaw, 
accompanied by Michel Croz, ascended to the col from the 
Eiffel, returning the same way. They started at 3.45 a.m., 
reached the summit at 9.5 A.M., and regained the hotel 
at 1.15 P.M., — a remarkably quick performance. These 
expeditions indicated the desirability of following the 
Monte Eosa route over Avf der Platte before diverging 
to the glacier, thus avoiding the most difficult seracs, and 
of selectins: thenceforward the Monte Eosa side of the 
glacier rather than that under the Lyskamm, which, 
though it appears more tempting, is dangerously swept 
by avalanches. 

In 1861 the expeditions to the Col de Lys were com- 
menced by JNIr. Tuckett. On the 15th of June, in 
company with Messrs. C. H. and W. J. Fox, and the 
guides J. J. Bennen and Peter Perren, he crossed to Gres- 
soney, returning to the Eiffel a few days subsequently 
by the old Weiss Thor. On the 22nd the same party 
made the first attempt on the Lyskamm by the eastern 
arete, but, prevented from reaching the summit by the 
state of the snow and violent wind, they climbed the 
Signal Kuppe instead, afterwards descending directly to- 



wards the Gorner glacier, without returning to the col. 
On July 29th the Eev. Leslie Stephen and Mr. Eeilly 
made the second attack on the eastern arete of the Lys- 
kamm, an enterprise again frustrated by the state of the 
snow. Descending on the southern side, they rounded the 
Nase, and crossed the Bettliner Pass into the Val d'Ayas, 
returning to the Eiffel the following day by the Schwarz 
Thor. Next comes the successful ascent of the Lyskamm 
on Aug. 19, described by Mr. Hardy in the following 
paper ; and a passage of the col from the Eiffel to Gresso- 
ney, made by Mr. A. P. and the Eev. H. WTiately with 
Franyois Devouassoud of Chamounix on Aug. 30, concludes 

the list for 1861. 

Among such a crowd of climbers it is disappointing to 
find that there should have been only one to undertake 
scientific observations. It is to my friend Mr. Tuckett, 
whose untiring energy has added so much to our knowledge 
of the Alps, that we owe the only accurate hypsometrical 
observations made upon the col since the time of Zum- 
stein, and I am greatly indebted to him for his permission 
to publish them in this paper. 

On June 15th he spent an hour and a half upon the 
col, and at 11 A.M. he registered the following observa- 
tions : — 

Barometer reduced . 
Boiling-point (Tlierm. No. 1) 
( » No. 2) 
Air temperature 

456-00 Millim. 
187-35 Fahr. 
187-5 „ 
2-5 Cent. 

The mean of the boiling-points converted by Eegnault's 
tables into equivalent barometric pressure gives 456-4 
millim., a near coincidence with the actual barometer 


Comparing these observations with corresponding ones 

at the Great St. Bernard, and employing tables based upon 

i ■ 







Laplace's formula, Mr. Tuckett deduces the followiDg 
altitudes above the Mediterranean : — 

Barometer . . . 14,053 English feet. 

Mean of two boiling-points . 14,028 
Mean . . . 14,0405 

If the comparison had been made with Geneva, Aosta, or 
Turin, the heights would have come out somewhat greater, 
so that Mr. Tuckett's calculations establish the accuracy of 
Zumstein's results. On the whole it will certainly be 
within the mark to put the height of the Col de Lys at 
14,000 English feet. 

We found the Pension Delapierre at Gressoney a most 
agreeable resting-place, and it was not without reluc- 
tance that, on the morning of the 24th, we quitted that 
charming spot. On ascending the Col de Kanzola, I care- 
fully reconnoitred the western branch of the Lys glacier, 
which descends from the depression between the Lyskamra 
and the Twins, and felt convinced that a passage from the 
Eiffel to Gressoney might also be effected over that part of 
the chain. After descending from the Eanzola, we crossed 
the Col de Jou to Chatillon, and arrived the same evening 
at Aosta, where we met the party just returned from the 
Grivola. A successful passage of the Col du Geant, and 
an equally successful ascent of Mont Blanc, during which 
we had the good fortune to see a magnificent Aurora from 
the Grands Mulcts, dosed our Alpine work. Passing into 
Italy again by the Bonhomme, Iseran, and Cenis, we rested 
from our mountain labours, and spent a week of delicious 
idleness at Turin and Genoa before retm-ning to Eng- 












By John Frederick Hardy, B.D. 

**I SAT, old fellow, we're all going up Monte Eosa to- 
morrow : won't you join us ? We shall have capital fun/' 

" What ! is that Hardy ? Oh, yes, do come, there 's a 
good fellow." 

With these and similar kind invitations was I greeted 
as I emerged from Seller's hotel at Zermatt on a 
pleasant morning in August, 1861, to join the crowd of 
loungers who were enjoying the warm sun, and snuffing 
up the pure mountain air that, defiant of dirty chalets 
and still dirtier inhabitants, rolled down into the little 
villaore. Before I had time to answer, a voice, afterwards 
discovered to be J. A. Hudson's, was heard to mention the 
Lyskamm, upon which hint I spake. 

*' Ah, the Lyskamm ! that's the thing : leave Monte Eosa, 
and go in for the Lyskamm ; anybody can do Monte 
Eosa, now the route 's so well known ; but the Lyskamm 's 
(juite another affair." 

" Yes," indeed, I expect it is. Why, Stephen couldn't 

do it." 

" He was only stopped by the bad state of the snow." 

" Well, Tuckett failed too." 

" He was turned back by a fog." 

" So may we be." 

" Certainly we may, also we mayn't ; and in the present 
state of the weather the latter 's the more likely of the two." 







The end of the discussion was that Professor Eamsay, 
Dr. Sibson, T. Kennison, J. A. Hudson, and W. E. Hall, 
agreed to ioin with me in seeking a highway up the Lys- 
kamm, while Galton and Gray remained faithful to their 
oricnnal intention of climbing the Eosy mountain. My 
five friends pressed upon me the leadership and manage- 
ment of the expedition ; and my first act of sovereignty 
was the very agreeable one of I'eceiving the homage of two 
new subjects. C. H. Pilkington and R. Stephenson, with 
whom I had crossed the Alphubel, and spent several 
pleasant days in the neighbourhood of Zermatt, but who 
had threatened to leave for England that very afternoon, 
came to ask me if I would take two more. " Yes, to be 
sure," I replied, " if you 're the two." And having thus 
raised the party to eight, I set to work at once to seek the 

best guides. 

Jean Pierre Cachat, of Chamounix, and Franz Lochmat- 
ter, of Macugnaga, were soon engaged. The latter intro- 
duced a companion, Karl Herr, of whom he gave so good 
an account* that I gladly put him on my list; still I was 
without any local guide save Stephen Taugwald, who was 
engaged to Dr. Sibson; and though Stephen is a very 
decent fellow, he's not made of the sort of stuff for a 


" But why has not Monsieur engaged Pierre Perren ? " 

inquired Cachat. 

♦ Lochmatter and Herr had been engaged about a week before I met 
them to bring an Italian gentleman over the Weiss Thor. When they were 
in the very worst part of the passage they were overtaken by a violent 
thunder-storm. The Italian lost all heart, threw himself on the ground, 
declared he could go no further ; but begged his guides to leave him and 
save themselves. They tried reasoning with him in vain ; and finding it 
utterly impossible to induce him to move, agreed to carry him by turns 
on their backs. This feat they successfully accomplished, and brought him 
safely down into the valley. Hearing this account from Lochmatter, I felt 
quite certain that Herr was a man to suit us. He fully came up to my 

*' 11 n^est pas icV^ 

" Mais, oui, Monsieur, il est ici,^'' replied a voice which 
there was no contradicting, for it was Perren's own ; and 
amid a shout of laughter he pushed his way through the 
little crowd, and brought his jolly, ugl}^, honest, intelligent 
face in front of mine. He had returned unexpectedly to 
Zermatt in consequence of the illness of the gentleman 
with whom he had been travelling, and was thus enabled 
to place his services at our disposal. 

We had now, in my opinion, force enough ; and as the 
guides insisted on my naming the terms of our engagement, 
I offered to give them forty francs apiece in any case, but 
fifty if we reached the summit, which arrangement, perhaps 
somewhat too liberal for any but first-class men, they gladly 
accepted. Joseph Marie Perren, a brother of my friend, 
was then engaged to act as porter for twenty francs ; forty 
eggs were ordered to be boiled hard, and a few loaves to 
be set aside; for meat, cheese, and wine, we knew we 
could depend on the inn at the Eiffelberg. 

In the cool of the evening we strolled slowly up the 
slopes on which this tiny auberge stands ; and having 
ordered dinner and beds, of which latter article we ac- 
tually obtained seven, while the eighth man had a mat- 
tress on the floor, we sent for the guides to discuss the 
hour of starting. We English were all for midnight ; but 
the natives insisted that the moon would not give us 
sufficient light to traverse the glacier, and that there was 
no advantage in starting till two hours later. A lengthy 
debate ended in a compromise : 30 minutes a.m. was to be 
the time. A light repast, followed by a cigar and a petit 
ven^e, insured us three hours of sound sleep. 

A few minutes after twelve I awoke, looked at my watch 
by the moonlight ; and after that short struggle between 
inclination and duty, which the best regulated mind 

VOL. I. c c 




endures when its proprietor is snugly ensconced between 
the blankets, I jumped out of bed, and proceeded to rouse 
the rest. One or two I found already stirring ; but the 
majority, guides and cuiainiere included, still slept the 
sleep of the just, which, according to Alphonse Karr, is 
but that of the man " qui a Men dine:' About 12.40 we 
got our breakfast, at which Galton and Gray assisted. 
They had slept in bags on the hill-side, by way of pre- 
paring for the ascent of Monte Kosa. Galton is an old 
campaigner ; but from the chilling effect produced on Gray, 
I should say it was about the worst preparative he could 

have selected. 

Another Monte Rosa party made their appearance 
towards the end of our meal, one of whom amused us 
mightily by complaining bitterly of the noise made by 
our arrival on the preceding evening. In order to secure 
his full measure of sleep he had gone to bed at 5 p.m., 
under the singular delusion that when that fact was 
known, all the business of the house would be conducted 
in a whisper. Poor little fellow! he had been soon 


\Miat with one delay and another it was 1.40 A.M. before 
we actually started; so that, after all, the guides gained their 
point within twenty minutes. The moon was brilliant and 
all but full; but, being somewhat low in the sky, she 
invested us with tremendously long shadows; and as 
including our Monte Rosa friends, we were nineteen in all, 
and were for the most part walking in single file, the effect 
was decidedly spectral. 

There was nothing novel in the early part of our route. 
We reached the Gorner glacier at 2.40 a.m., and ran 
rapidly over its surface till the moon sank behind the 
Breithorn, when we found the deep shade rather trouble- 
some. However, we arrived at the Auf der Platte at 4.15 



without any mishap, except the temporary disappearance 
of a porter, who had wandered from the main body. Here 
we made a cache of some of our provisions, bade bon voyage 
to Gray and Galton, and started on what was to us an un- 
known land, or rather sea, — the great Monte Rosa glacier, — 
which, pouring down its frozen billows from the Lys Col, 
separates the snow-covered cliffs of the Lyskamm from 
the naked precipices of the mountain whence it derives 
its name. 

By this time day was rapidly approaching, and Ramsay 
called our attention to the colour- effects behind us, which 
were among the most beautiful I have ever seen. The 
whole of the western sky was, in its lowest band, deep 
pm-ple, which passed gradually into the richest crimson, 
and that again through orange into pale yellow, which 
mysteriously blended with the pure blue overhead. In 
the midst of this glare of colour stood up the Matterhorn, 
grim, ghastly, inexorable. The rocks of the Breithorn, on 
the contrary, and the snowy peaks of the Zwillinge, as- 
sumed a bright green, complementary to the prevailing 
crimson tone, the green of the rocks being much darker 
than that of the snow, and in some places changing very 
strangely into what may be termed a re-complementary red. 
This transient vision immediately preceded the rising of 
the sun, and disappeared as his earliest rays smote the 

At 5 A.M. we divided ourselves into the two parties, 
which had been previously arranged by lot, as we were far 
too numerous for one rope. The first subdivision fell in 
in the following order,— Perren, Hardy, Lochmatter, Ram- 
say, Stephenson, Hudson, Herr. The second consisted of 
Cachat, Rennison, Sibson, Taugwald, Hall, Pilkington, and 
young Perren. Then it was discovered that there was a 
supernumerary porter, name and ability alike unknown, 

c c 2 


.1- \ 





who had been pressed into our service in the morning, and 
for whom no arrangement had been made. Neither party 
were very anxious for his company; but at last he was tied 

to the tail of No. 1. 

And now the work began in real earnest. The snow was 
in delightful condition ; but the glacier was cut up by in- 
numerable crevasses into the most superb seracs, and we 
had to thread our way as through a labyrinth. Backwards 
and forwards, now right, now left, we doubled like a Cam- 
bridt^eshire hare ; or rather as we wriggled in and out, with 
the head of our long party going perhaps south, and the 
tail north or east or west, we must have looked at a dis- 
tance like a gigantic snake winding along among the ever- 
lasting snows. In general No. 2 followed quietly in the 
footsteps of No. 1, but once they had the audacity to select 
their own route, — a breach of discipline which could not 
be overlooked, especially as they had obviously taken the 
best line of country, and were actually in advance of us. 
With a few severe words, received, I fear, with derisive 
cheers, we passed again to the front, and gave them no 
second opportunity of repassing us. 

The inclination of the glacier varied through almost 
every conceivable angle, from 1° to 360°; but the snow was 
so crisp and pleasant that we had scarcely a step to cut. 
We had originally intended to follow the usual route to 
the Lys Col, and then bear away to the right till we reached 
the lower end of the Lyskamm arete; but about 7.30 
Perren pointed out to me a rather stiffish snow-slope, lying 
to our immediate right, by which we might possibly reach 
the desired point at once, and thus save, at the very least, 
an hour's fatigue. Still the slope was steep, and we 
knew nothing of what crevasses or bergschrunds we might 
find higher up. Was it wise to leave the certain slow for 
the uncertain quick ? While Perren and I were discussing 



this weighty question, Cachat came up and suggested the 

very same route. This was enough for me; I acknowledged 

the omen, and decided for the short cut. Some of the 

party looked a little astonished when told where we were 

going, but they set gallantly to the work without a moment's 

hesitation. Away we all floundered through the snow, 

which was not quite as hard as we could have wished; but 

by judicious zigzagging, and by adopting that " haustum 

longum, haustum fortem, et haustum omnes simui;' which 

Lord Dufferin so forcibly recommends, we gained the top 

of our slope and the base of the arete in less than an hour. 

We had taken a slight breakfast while among the 

seracs, but we now settled down to the substantial meal 

of the day. The knapsacks were unpacked, eggs, meat, 

bread, and cheese devoured with avidity, and washed 

down by a delicious beverage invented by one of our 

party, and henceforth to be known as the Sibson mixture, 

—red country wine and Swiss champagne combined in 

equal proportions. 

Breakfast finished, I addressed my followers, and very 
nearly excited a mutiny by suggesting that, if any one 
doubted his power of last, he had better remain on this 
plateau, as there could be no turning back on the arete. 
I am proud to say that my suggestion was received with 
the contempt it deserved. In fact, such strong language 
was used with regard to all laggards, that I am incHned to 
think that even the supernumerary porter, had he under- 
stood English, would have felt it his duty to proceed 
further. As it was, we left him alone in his glory, 
smoking the pipe of idleness. Unless his meditations 
were of a more exciting character than I suppose, he must 
have been rather cold before we returned to him. 

At nine o'clock, after a short reconnaissance, Perren 
started ahead and went up the arete in magnificent style. 





kicking and cutting steps with a skill and rapidity which 
I have seldom seen equalled, stopping only now and then 
to shout down to us a hoarse query as to the state of the 
snow above him, lest he should unwarily tread upon an 
overhanging cornice ; and on receiving a satisfactory an- 
swer, turning to his work again with a wild halloo. The 
first subdivision followed close behind, Lochmatter, who 
had taken Perren's place in the rope, improving the steps 
as we advanced. No. 2 had split into sections in order to 
obtain greater freedom of action, but we all kept pretty 
closely together, each man looking to his predecessor's 
heels, and rising steadily step by step. 

The arete proved very irregular in its construction. 
Generally the two side slopes swept upwards at high 
angles, and terminated in a very sharp and narrow ridge. 
When this was the case, we walked just below the edge on 
the right hand, resting our alpenstocks on the ridge, and 
commanding a full view of both slopes, down which the 
dislodged snow fell rapidly. Sometimes this edge widened 
out, and we walked along it, as on the top of a wall. At 
one such place we took the angles with a clinometer, and 
found the angle of ascent to be 36°, while on each side the 
snow trended away at 52°. Sometimes we came to a great 
gap, and had to descend some twenty or thirty feet to 
rise again ; for we dared not take a line sufficiently low to 
avoid these breaks. Occasionally, but very rarely, the 
rock was laid bare ; in general it was well covered with 
snow. This in parts was very dry and slithery*, and 

* I have been in the habit of using the word slithery for many a long 
year, but I am not sure that it is to be found in any dictionary, or will be 
generally intelligible. In very dry weather, with the wind in the north or 
east, it frequently happens that, as the day warms, the snow does not so much 
melt as to form itself into a dry powder, losing almost entirely its power of 
cohesion. In this state it is said to be slithery. Mr. Editor tells me that 
slithery is only a coiruption of sliddery, which, according to him, is a good 
English word. 



once or twice during the ascent I felt a little nervous 
about our return, when the sun should have gained more 
power. I was afraid lest the cohesive power of the sur- 
face snow should be almost entirely destroyed, and that 
we should be compelled to cut deep into the frozen 
portion beneath during our descent. This I knew to be 
necessarily a long and tedious process, and likely to be 
somewhat trying to the nerves of the less experienced 
members of the party. I had not, however, reckoned as 
much as I might have done on the service to be rendered 
us by our invaluable ally BsgeMwn. From the size ot 
our party ea.h step got so thoroughly well kicked and 
trodden down, that they became perfectly hard and 
durable, and with but few exceptions were as serviceable 
in the descent as in the ascent. 

After about an hour and a halfs hard climbing we 
reached a small plateau, from which the summit toelf was 
visible ; and though we saw that there was still serious work 
before us, we felt certain of victory, and indulged m a 
nreliminary dance of triumph. 

And now onward for the final assault. The slope be- 
comes steeper and narrower ; happily there is little wind 
but the air is perceptibly keener ; the snow is harder and 
harder ; kicking will do but little now; the axe is m con- 
stant requisition. Hark \ what is that Perren says about 

the GipfeV? 

"iferr Hardy, wollen Sk der Erste seyn, der sernen 
Fuss auf den Gipfd setztr'-"lle wants to know if 
you 'd like to be the first to set foot on the top. 
« Oh, by all means,— Ja gewiss, Peter:' 
And so in another minute (at 11.40 A.M.) Peter sta^s 
aside, and I find myself at the top of all 14,889 fee 
above the level of the sea. On come the rest of the con 
spirators, crowding eagerly on to the tiny plateau, which 







will barely hold us all at the same time. There is 
universal shaking of hands, and patting of backs, and 
noisy congratulation. As for Perren he is wild with joy, 
and shrieks and chuckles, and seizing both my hands 
dances round me; then he puts his arm round my 
shoulder, and pats and fondles me, as though he were 
caressing a young horse, that he had tried and not found 

At last something like order is restored, and Herr 
strikes up a German hymn, which rings out clear and 
pleasantly in the calm air, till, at a hint from Perren, he 
changes into " God save the Queen," and out burst fourteen 
voices, if not in perfect harmony, at least in perfect good- 
will; and as we sing with uncovered heads, the noble 
old anthem fills our English heai'ts with happy thouc^hts 
of home and fatherland, and of the bright eyes that 
will sparkle, and the warm hearts that will rejoice, at 
our success. 

It was my good fortune last summer to obtain an 
almost uninterrupted view from every col and summit 
that I reached; and the Lyskamm was no exception to 
this general rule. Close opposite to us sprang up the 
Hochste Spitze of Monte Eosa, only topping us by some 
350 feet, and surrounded by its lesser pinnacles, many of 
which lay far beneath us. Farther away, the gracefully 
curving Mischabel Homer, the Dom, and Taschhorn, 
caught the delighted eye, and led it pnward, till it rested 
on the massive mountains of the great Oberland range, 
which filled up all the northern horizon. In the west 
rose the Matterhorn, but no longer in majestic isolation. 
The Breithorn, the Dent d'Erron, the Dent Blanche, and 
the Weisshorn, stood up to dispute his empire, and to 
form as noble a group of peaks as ever gladdened the 
heart of a mountaineer. Far away in the south-west, their 




great distance clearly marked by the peculiar golden colour 
of their snows, gleamed the domes and the aiguilles of Mont 
Blanc ; while in the south, the dark purple hills of Italy, 
here and there flecked by snow, and sometimes rising to 
the rank of mountains, as in the case of the Grivola, 
the Grand Paradis, and the Viso, seemed to repeat them- 
selves, ridge behind ridge, in infinite succession. Towards 
the Grisons and the Tyrol hung a few fleecy clouds, but 
not of sufficient density to obscure the glories of the 
Bernina and the Orteler, nor of the steep cliflfs that tower 
above the Splugen and Bernhardin passes. 

For somewhat more than half an hour we feasted our 
eyes with this magnificent panorama, till some one 
complaining that he felt cold, there was a general cry for 
more of the Sibson mixture. Perren, who knew the 
difficulties that were yet to come, was for drinking no 
more till we were fairly off the arete ; but his prudent 
counsels were laughed to scorn by the others, who de- 
clared it would be a sottise to bring wine to the top of a 
mountain, and then carry it down untasted. After all 
two bottles among fourteen were not likely to affect our 
steadiness very materially ; and the slight stimulant would 
probably do more good than harm. At all events the 
mixture was taken as before ; and then at half an hour 
after noon commenced the really anxious part of the expe- 
dition, — the descent of the arete. 

Ketaining Perren and Herr to form the first and 
last links of the leading party, I sent Lochmatter to 
assist Cachat in the conduct of the second detachment, 
and left the third in charge of Taugwald and Joseph 


Slowly and steadily, carefully trying each step before 
trusting to it,— sometimes, when the slope allowed, walking 
boldly forwards with alpenstocks thrown well back, — at 





Others, turning face to the snow, and letting ourselves 
down, hand under hand, while we looked through our legs 
for the foot-holes, — now and again one or another of us 
slipping away, but held safely up by the rope and the 
steady anchorage of his comrade's alpenstocks — here and 
there the steps of our ascent, all melted and useless, and 
our progress broken into a series of short halts, while the 
axe was doing its work, — with all our faculties, mental as 
well as bodily, in full tension, — with no words uttered but 
the occasional " an^etez " or " en avant;'— still down- 
wards, downwards for nearly two hours. 

Now, however, we see a black spot in the plateau we 
have been slowly approaching ) the black spot moves, — it 
shouts,— it is the supernumerary porter ; a few minutes 
more of caution, and we are receiving his congratulations, 
and, what is more interesting to us, making another dive 
into the contents of the knapsacks. 

It is all plain sailing now ; we may laugh, and talk, and 
sing as we please ; the business is over, the Lyskamm is 
conquered, without an accident, and without a break-down, 
by a larger party than ever before attempted a new ascent. 
We found the snow soft and yielding on the slope leading 
dowQ to the Monte Kosa glacier; and as we zigzagged 
downwards in our old steps, the foremost men got pretty 
heavily besprinkled by the masses which were dislodged 
by their followers. This, however, only gave rise to a 
little vigorous chaff, and we were soon doubling again 
amongst the seracs, and fighting our way in the half- 
melted snow to the Auf der Platte, which we gained at 

4.35 P.M. 

And now we are once more among vestiges of civilisa- 
tion. Fragments of egg-shells, chicken bones, and broken 
bottles, tell of the numerous picnics that have been cele- 
brated here. 



« By the bye, Perren, we have a cache here ourselves." 
« Ja, Herr, we have four bottles of wine here." 
« Out with it then, by all means ; here 's the corkscrew." 
What is this sudden horror that comes over his face ? 
Has he fallen unexpectedly upon the traces of some 
terrible or inhuman crime ? It is but too true,— robbery of 
the most aggravated character,— our cache has been dis- 
covered, and one of our cherished bottles has been felo- 
niously emptied ! 

* Oh, villain ! wlieresoe'er thou be, 

That drained' st our flask of purple wine. 
Deem not that greedy act of thine 
Shall always 'scape the penalty.' 

So sang the poet of our party ; but poetical justice is not 
always done, and up to the present moment the aforesaid 
villain has escaped detection. Perhaps the bard alluded to 
the remorseful stings of conscience, perhaps to the retri- 
butive acidity of the grape. 

We finished the three bottles that had been left to us ; 
and crossing the Gorner glacier, with no worse misfortune 
than an occasional shoeful of water, we reached the Eiffel 
Inn at seven. Here we paid our guides the fifty francs 
apiece which we had promised, giving Perren an extra 
douceur of ten francs, which he had well earned by his 
careful leadership throughout. 

We decided on pushing on to Zermatt at once; and 
although one or two of the party lost their way in the 
woods, we were all comfortably reunited at dinner soon 
after nine o'clock. The news of our success had preceded 
us, for we had been seen, when on the summit, by some 
Englishmen who were on the opposite ridges of Monte 
Rosa. The hearty welcome of Seller, who, according to 
his wont, insisted upon treating us to his best wine, and 
the warm congratulations of our English friends, espe- 






dally of the ladies (who, God bless them for the dear 
inconsistent creatures they are ! always entreat you not to 
run into danger, and always are intensely delighted when 
they think you have disobeyed them), brought a most 
agreeable day to a most agreeable conclusion. 






By William Mathews, Jun., M.A, 


After the opening of the Col de Lys, I had frequently 
speculated on the possibility of making the corresponding 
pass from the Eiffel to Gressoney, on the opposite or 
western side of the Lyskamm. I was therefore much 
interested at hearing from my friend, Mr. Tuckett, that he 
had ascended from the Eiffel to the depression between 
the Lyskamm and the Twins, and that he concurred with 
me in the opinion that the descent upon the Italian side 
would be quite practicable. Mr. Tuckett had reached this 
spot on the 16th of July, 1860, in the course of an 
attempt to reach the summit of the Lyskamm by way 
of the western arete ; but finding the arete very narrow, 
and the snow extremely insecure, he was obHged to return 
without accomplishing his object. 

It was not until 1861 that an opportunity occurred of 
testing the accuracy of our conclusions. My friend, Mr. 
F. W.'jacomb, and myself had been making rather a long 
stay at Aosta, at the excellent hotel of Jean Tairraz, which 
had been our head-quarters for exploring some of the 
little-known and picturesque recesses of the Graians. 
We were bound to Turin and Monte Viso; but being 
anxious to make a diversion to Zermatt before journeying 
southwards, we resolved to attack the supposed pass. 
Mr. Tuckett, having established the practicability of the 
northern half of the excursion, it was clear that Gressoney 




was the proper starting-point, especially as, in case of a 
successful passage, we had an easy return route by the 
St. Theodule. 

On the evening of the 20th of August, we settled our 
accounts with Tairraz, and ordered a carriage to be ready 
on the morrow to take us to Chatillon, — Jacomb cruelly 
insisting on an early start, in order that we might have 
the cool of the morning for the enjoyment of the charming 
scenery of the Val d'Aosta. At 4.30 a.m. on Wednesday, 
the 21st, we had quitted Jean's hospitable roof, and in 
that dreamy, semi-conscious state which results from 
slumbers prematmrely broken, were rolling out of Aosta, 
leaning lazily back in the carriage, with our two guides — 
Jean Baptiste Croz and Michel Croz, of Chamounix — 
sitting on the seat before us. Doubtless the spiritual 
nature of my companion, set free from the gross influence 
of the flesh, drank deeply of the beauty of the lovely 
valley ; for in a few minutes he became quite insensible, 
and only recovered his consciousness as the carriage drove 
up to the door of the Hotel du Palais Eoyal at Chatillon. 

It was eight o'clock when we arrived, and we stayed an 
hour and a half for breakfast. Leaving a part of our 
baggage behind, but retaining a mercurial barometer by 
Casella, which I had already compared at Greneva and St. 
Bernard, and which I subsequently compared with the 
Academy instrument at Turin, we quitted Chatillon at 
9.30, and walked down the high-road as far as St. Vincent, 
where we struck into the track which leads to the 
Col de Jou. It was pleasant walking enough while 
under the shade of the noble chestnuts which clothe the 
mountain-side ; but when we got among the villages and 
open fields above, the heat was fearful, and diminished the 
pleasure with which, from time to time, we looked back 
upon the broad and fertile valley which lay stretching 



many a league behind us, the. winding Doire and white 
villages shining beneath the burning sun. At 12.20 we 
reached the summit level, which is covered with pine 
forest, intersected by open sweeps of lawn ; and it was 
with no little satisfaction that we extended ourselves upon 
the softest of couches, under the refreshing shade. 

Half an hour soon sped away, and we commenced the 
descent into the Val d'Ayas towards Brussone, one of the 
most picturesque villages on the Italian side of Monte 
Eosa. The principal auberge at that place is the now 
well-known Lion d'Or, said by Professor Forbes to have 
afforded but indifferent accommodation when he stayed at 
it in 1842 ; but I entertained so grateful a recollection of 
my reception there in 1859, that it required very little 
pressing to induce me to assent to the proposal that 
we should rest and take lunch before continuing our 
journey. We entered the inn at 1.30, and in less than 
half an hour were seated at table, with a bowl of soup 
before us and sundry savoury dishes. We were then 
tempted with all sorts of delicacies in the way of fritters, 
which were replaced by a pile of fruit. More than one 
bottle of wine having been consumed, and the hottest 
period of a cloudless day in a broiling Italian valley not 
tending to produce activity, it is scarcely surprising that 
it was 4 o'clock before we began to realise the fact that 
we were going that night to Gressoney. Now, however, 
not a moment was to be lost, and we tore ourselves away 
from the Lion d'Or. I recommend both it and its pro- 
prietor, Jean Alexandre Vuillermet, prince of cuisiniers, 
to the patronage of the members of the Alpine Club. 

The ascent to the Col de Ranzola from the Val d'Ayas is 
rather tedious ; but the view from the summit is amply 
repaying,— embracing the northern slopes of the Graians, 
and the Italian side of Mont Blanc. To see Monte Rosa, 









whicli is not visible from the col itself, it is necessary 
either to descend towards the Val de Lys or to climb to 
the top of the Combetta, a grass-covered mountain to the 
south of the col, and rising some 700 or 800 feet above 
it, — an excursion of which the Eev. S. W. King has 
given a charming description in his "Italian Valleys of the 
Pennine Alps." As we did not reach the col until 6.15, 
the Combetta was out of the question ; but I delayed a 
quarter of an hour to take a barometer observation, which 
gives the following results : — 

Compared with 



St. Bernard 

7034 Englisli feet 




Professor Forbes gives the height at 7136 feet, a very 
near coincidence with the St. Bernard determination. 

We had not been descending many minutes before the 
Vincent Pyramid came suddenly into view, and then the 
whole chain as far as the Twins, — a glorious expanse of 
mingled snow and rock. The depression by which we 
proposed to effect the passage across the ridge was clearly 
visible, — the western arm of the Lys glacier, which led 
up to it, looking particularly difficult. There was, however, 
no time for anything but the most cursory examination. 
Quitting the path, we descended the extremely steep grass 
slopes by a series of glissades, an amusement in which our 
guides were more proficient than ourselves : they were 
soon out of sight in front, while we, missing the proper 
turn to Gressoney, arrived at the bottom of the valley 
some distance below the village. It was now very nearly 
dark, and no path to be discerned. We scrambled across 
the bed of a torrent strewn with great stones, and then 
happily came upon a foot-bridge over the Lys. The large 
lighted building on the opposite side was, I felt convinced, 



the Pension Delapierre; we walked straight up to it, 
the conjecture was verified, and at 7.15 we stepped across 
the threshold. Our guides did not arrive till an hour 
later, having waited for us on the road, expecting to be 

The inn was full of Turinese, driven out of the city by 
the scorching heat which had prevailed for several months, 
and every bed-room was occupied. But Delapierre was 
equal to the occasion. He received us with the greatest 
cordiality, and had a large room in the roof, hitherto un- 
furnished, hastily fitted up for our accommodation. On 
entering the salle we found it crowded with visitors all 
seated at supper ; among them several very good-looking 
ladies, evidently members of some of the wealthier fami- 
lies of the valley. They wore the picturesque costume of 
the Val de Lys, consisting of a skirt, a highly ornamented 
bodice, and white linen sleeves. 

As we had nothing to do on the 22nd but to walk up to 
the highest chalets, there was no necessity for starting 
until the afternoon, and I employed the welcome leisure of 
the morning in making the sketch which forms the vi- 
gnette to this paper, and in considering the best route for 
our expedition. The principal feature in the views from 
the neighbourhood of Grressoney is the snowy mass of the 
Lyskamm which occupies the head of the valley, sup- 
ported on this side by the great buttress ending in the 
Nase, and dividing the two branches of the Lys glacier. 
It is not easy to choose a point of view which commands 
the whole chain between the Vincent Pyramid and the 
Twins; but that which I selected, a few hundred yards 
westward of the river, very nearly does so. The snow- 
peak on the extreme right of the sketch is the Vincent 
Pyramid, and the mountain in the centre is the Lys- 
kamm. The hollow between the two is probably a part 

VOL. I. » » 








of the glacier a little to the south of the actual Col de Lys, 
or Grand Plateau. Immediately to the west of the Lys- 
kamm lies apparently the col we wished to cross ; but the 
actual point at which we made the passage is the next 
depression on the left. The summit of Castor is still more 
to the left, and is hidden by the mountain in the fore- 
ground. The western arm of the Lys glacier appearing 
very steep and broken, we agreed with our guides that the 
wisest course would be to climb up to the comparatively 
level snow-field which covers the ridge separating the 
Val d'Ayas from the Val de Lys, walk along it towards the 
base of the Jumeaux, and then select the easiest point for 
crossing the main chain, • 

The next steps to be taken were to prepare the commis- 
sariat, engage a porter to go with us at least half-way, and 
settle where we were to pass the night. At so good an 
hotel the first was a matter of no difficulty, and Dela- 
pierre having announced that we wanted assistance in 
carrying the provisions, two men presented themselves for 
selection. We chose the stronger looking of the two, and 
acceded to the request of the other that he might go with 
us en amateur. Our porters were 3f little use beyond the 
mere carrying of theii* burdens, as they had never been 
upon the ice, and proved remarkably ignorant of the topo- 
graphy of the upper part of the valley. Delapierre 
recommended us to sleep at the chalet of Cour de Lys, 
which is close to the end of the glacier, but we were 
anxious if possible to find some higher camping-place. 

We quitted the hotel at 2.50 p.m., Delapierre, on wishing 
us hon voyage^ adding to our stores, by way of present, a 
bottle of vin hlanc de Chambave to drink the health of 
the new col. In the course of the afternoon we were dis- 
cussing the feasibility of ascending the Lyskamm, which 
looked irresistibly tempting, when we saw before us 



a single traveller with his guide walking in the opposite 
direction to ourselves. It proved to be my friend Mr. 
Nichols, who had come from Zermatt by way of the 
Theodule and Cimes Blanches, and who asked us if we had 
heard the news. On our replying in the negative, he 
said, " Tyndall has done the Weisshorn and has gone to 
try the Matterhorn, and Hardy and a large party have 
just been up the Lyskamm." The last-named mountain 
looked far less interesting now that its prestige was gone ; 
but we were all the more anxious to make the new pass 
and join our friends in Zermatt. At 5.30 we reached the 
Cour de Lys, and, perceiving that there was no higher 
chalet in the direction we were going, resolved to make it 
our quarters for the night 

This chalet must be extensively patronised by excur- 
sionists to the Lys glacier, as it is furnished with the most 
effeminate luxury. It actually contains a bed and a deal 
table and benches, to say nothing of a stock of cook- 
ing and other utensils of superior quality and workman- 
ship. While the guides were superintending a brew of 
hot chocolate and milk, I secured a barometer observation 
with the following results : — 

Time, 6 p.m. 

Geneva . 
St. Bernard 

6511 English feet 




Zumstein's determination is 6778 English feet, but it is 
probable that his observation was taken somewhat nearer 
to the glacier. 

There was a good deal of cloud about in the evening, 
but by midnight it had disappeared, and when we left the 
chalet at 2.20 on the morning of the 23rd, we had a 
clear sky and a brilliant moon. Passing at once from 
the east to the west side of the Lys by a wooden foot- 

D D 2 









bridge, we turned our faces northwards, and in a few 
minutes arrived at an ancient lateral moraine of the Lys 
glacier, now completely stranded and grass-grown. Just 
within it, however, was a moving moraine, with several 
blocks of prodigious size riding down upon it. We walked 
along the crest of the older belt of rocks, looking across 
the glacier to the Nase, and more distant outlines of the 
Hohelicht and Telschen, and watching the approach of 
dawn. At 4.20, the shadows cast by the moon had become 
very faint, and at 4.30 had entirely disappeared ; at this 
time the sky between the Telschen and Hohelicht was 
light orange, and between the latter peak and the Vincent 
Pyramid a pale violet of the most exquisite loveliness. We 
followed the moraine until we had passed on our left the 
base of the Felikhorn and reached a ravine beyond it, 
which appeared to afford an easy means of climbing on to 
the snow plateau extending from that peak to the Jumeaux, 
and so enabling us to avoid the ice cascades of the western 
arm of the Lys glacier. We struck into the ravine, 
climbed the rocky slopes that enclose it, gained the plateau 
exactly at 6, and rested for breakfast. 

At 7 we were off again, and the remainder of the ascent 
proved perfectly easy and entirely devoid of incident. 
Our route lay along the gently ascending snow-slope 
until we entered a broad corridor, with the snow-ridge 
separating us from the Val d'Ayas on our left. We walked 
along the corridor nearly to the foot of Castor, where it 
turns at right angles, and following the lead thus indicated 
were making for the head of the Lys glacier, when we 
came upon a steep slope on the left, leading up to a de- 
pression in the main ridge, and walled in on either side by 
vertical cliffs of snow, bristling with stupendous icicles. A 
crevasse circled round the top of the slope and ran down 
alongside the eastern snow-wall ; but we descried a bridge. 



cut our way up to it, and in a few minutes were looking 
on the Gomer glacier. 

It was not without surprise that we discovered that we 
were upon the true col, the apparently lower level of the 
part of the chain nearer the Lyskamm, as seen from Gres- 
soney, being merely an effect of perspective. During the 
ascent Jean Croz had been indulging a favourite propen- 
sity of predicting difficulties, — a bad habit in guides which 
ought always to be discouraged, and for which we were 
obliged to rebuke him. Eefusing to place reliance on my 
unsupported assurance that the Glacier des Jumeaux was 
particularly easy, he went forward to pioneer the descent. 
We, on the other hand, knowing that the Twins were as 
yet unclimbed, had resolved to bag them both, and jNIichel 
was already at work with his axe cutting steps along the 
ridge. It was 9.45 when we gained the col ; we left the 
porters to take care of themselves, and hastened forward 
after Michel. There was a strong north wind blowing, and 
it was bitterly cold, — circumstances which make walking 
along a knife-edge and poking one's toes carefully into 
foot- holes not the pleasantest of recreations. The way is 
short, however : we climb one peak, descend into a hollow, 
mount again, and finally, at 10.45, stand on the top of 
Castor, the highest point between the Lyskamm and the 
Matterhom, fully convinced that we have at last both 
the Twins in our pockets. 

The summit we have gained is bare of snow, and consists 
of mica schist, very rich in mica, and split up into a quan- 
tity of thin slate-like pieces. While Michel is engaged in 
the erection of a stone man we look roimd upon the 
prospect. Switzerland is quite clear, and the view not 
materially different from that afforded by Monte Eosa, 
which has been described so often. On the Italian side we 
look across to the Graians, no longer an unknown land, 



^. •;; 

. 1 > 


and can distinguish the Kuitor, Mont Pourri, Grivola, 
Grand Paradis, Tour St. Pierre, and Punta Lavina. More 
to the left, with the Viso proudly preeminent, is the noble 
amphitheatre of the Cottian and Maritime Alps, circling 
round the plain of Piedmont, and blending into the dis- 
tant Apennines east of Genoa, and we clearly discern the 
gap in the chain, over which lies the road to Nice by the 
Col di Tenda. The great plain itself is not the least inte- 
resting feature in the panorama : its towns and rivers are 
just visible, but very indistinct, and it is covered all over 
with small white clouds, similar in size and shape, and at 
equal distances asunder. 

The barometer was now set up on the southern side 
of the peak, about twenty feet below the summit, so 
as to be sheltered from the wind. At 11 a.m. I care- 
fully observed the height of the mercurial column, the 
detached thermometer at the same time indicating an 
air temperature of —1° Cent. The following are the 
results : — 

Turin . . . . . . . 13,857 English feet 

Geneva 13,880 

St. Bernard 13,835 

Mean 13,857 

Adding twenty feet to the mean, we get for the height 
of Castor by my barometrical determination 13,877 feet, 
a result very nearly identical with that obtained trigo- 
nometrically by M. Betemps, who gives " Zwillinge, Som- 
mite occidental e," 13,879 feet.* The barometer having 
been replaced in its case, we deposited two minimum 
thermometers in a hole in the southern face of the cairn 
and closed up the opening with a stone. The first was an 
Alpine minimum, marked A. C, No. 376, and the second a 

* "Extrait de la Triangulation Fed^rale ex^cut^e en 1859, par Betemps, 
Ing^nieur G^ographe." 



thermometer with a Fahrenheit scale, and the spirit 
coloured pink. Mr. Casella had made me a present of the 
latter instrument when I left England, saying that he 
thought it would be less likely than the others to catch the 
bubble complaint. The two instruments at the time of 
deposit registered respectively 3° and 38°. It was now 
11.30, and our hands being completely benumbed by 
handling the instruments, we retraced our steps along the 
arete, and regained the col at noon. 

We found the porters exactly in the position in which 
we had left them two hours and a quarter before, and 
Jean Croz returned from his investigations. The latter, on 
being asked if he had discovered the difficulties he was in 
search of, replied that he had not, but that he had no 
doubt they would be met with lower down. The wind 
still continuing decidedly unpleasant, we descended into 
the crevasse, and entering a beautiful snow-grotto which 
afforded us complete shelter, unpacked the provision-knap- 
sacks and turned our attention to dinner. Delapierre's 
vin de Chambave was promptly uncorked and pronounced 
admirable, and the health of the Twins and the new col, 
not forgetting that of the donor, were drunk with consider- 

able enthusiasm. 

I deeply regret to have to confess that, partly from lazi- 
ness, partly from the inconvenience of the position, and 
partly from the dislike of again benumbing my fingers 
against the cold metal, I neglected to make a second 
observation with the barometer, so that I am unable to 
contribute any materials for determining the height of 
the col. Mr. Tuckett, as usual, supplies us with the 
required information, which he has kindly placed at my 


In his expedition of July 16, 1860, he observed the 
barometer at the spot in question at 11.45 A.M,; the 


mercurial column reduced to zero stood at 467*66 millim. 
and the air temperature was 7*5° Cent. 

Comparison with Geneva, Aosta, and St. Bernard, give 
the following results : — 

C^eneva 13,580 English feet 

Aosta 13,577 

St. Bernard 13,393 

^ean 13,517 

Here, as is frequently the case, the altitude deduced 
from St. Bernard is less than that resulting from a compa- 
rison with lower stations, but the difference is unusually 
large, even for a time of day when we should expect it to 
be a maximum. Considering that it took us an hour to 
climb from the col to the summit of Castor, I estimated 
the difference in level at about 500 feet ; if this be correct, 
the St. Bernard determination must be nearer the truth 
than the others, and we may in round numbers put the 
height of the col at 13,400 feet. The doubt introduced 
by the discrepancy makes it desirable that the observation 
should be repeated, and it is the more to be regretted that 
I neglected to do so myself. 

Although Mr. Hardy had forestalled us on the Lyskamm, 
and we had consequently abandoned all idea of attempting 
it, we had none the less attentively scrutinised the western 
end of its Italian face. Our examination convinced us 
that there was a perfectly easy way to the summit from 
the head of the Lys glacier, a few hundred feet below the 
col, and that if Mr. Tuckett, instead of attempting to cut 
his way along the arete, had descended to that point before 
his final attack, his enterprise in all probability would 
have succeeded. It is not, however, likely that this route 
will ever become a favourite. If Grressoney be taken as 
the starting-point it necessitates an immense detour, unless, 
indeed, the direct ascent of the western arm of the Lys 




glacier should prove easier than it looks. If, on the 
other hand, the expedition be undertaken from the Eiffel, 
it involves descending the col on the upward journey, and 
what is much worse, ascending it in returning, — a waste of 
labour which would be extremely disagreeable. 

At 12.45 we dismissed our porters and commenced the 
descent of the Griacier des Jumeaux, keeping on its eastern 
side under the Lyskamm, where it appeared but little 
broken. Glissade followed glissade in delightfully quick 
succession, and we thought a few minutes more would 
bring us without an obstacle down to the main stream of 
the Gorner, when our guides suddenly pulled up. On 
joining them we found ourselves on the edge of a cliff of 
neve about a hundred feet high, and a wilderness of seracs 
below us. However fond Jean might have been of pro- 
phesying difficulties, he was never backward in grappling 
with them when they arose, and after retracing our steps 
for a short distance, he and Michel diverged to the west- 
ward and tried to discover a lead. Eventually we had to 
cross the whole of the glacier from the foot of the Lyskamm 
to the Schwarzberg, and then double back again nearly to 
the point we started from, but on a lower level. This 
part of our journey was entirely among the seracs, which 
consist here of gigantic cubical blocks of stratified snow, 
and are, I think, the finest in the vicinity of Zermatt. 

At 2.30 the difficulty was conquered and the Gorner 
glacier gained ; and the exertion having given us a fresh 
appetite, we rested to consume the remainder of the provi- 
sions. In the course of our descent we had made a most 
unwelcome discovery. Having been firmly convinced that 
we had climbed both the Jumeaux, and assuming — although 
I ought to have known better — that the western summit 
was the higher one, it was with no little surprise that we 
saw the familiar form of Pollux gradually rising into view 









westward of his taller brother, and still unclimbed. The 
fact is that, being only about the same height as the col, 
we had entirely overlooked it from the top of Castor, 
and what we had taken for it was only a small protuberance 
of Castor himself. 

What is the exact relation which Pollux holds to his twin 
brother and the Schwarz Thor I am unable to say, and it 
requires further investigation to decide ; but I believe he is 
quite invisible from the Val de Lys. I have, however, no 
hesitation in pointing out an inaccuracy in the map of 
Schlagintweit, who has placed Pollux where Castor ought 
to stand, and not given space enough between Castor and 
the top of the Lyskamm, — an error which unduly narrows 
the western arm of the Lys glacier as compared with the 

eastern one.* 

At 3.15 we commenced the passage of the Gorner, and 
had not taken many paces before we arrived at one of the 
longitudinal canals which form part of the drainage sys- 
tem of this glacier. It was some ten feet deep, far too 
wide to jump, and the water rolling along it was a positive 
river. All at once our company became separated, Michel 
starting off down the glacier and Jean and Jacomb up it, 
tiying to find a place where the stream was either bridged 
or narrow enough to leap with safety. Not liking to make 
a detour, and seeing a spot where the channel was wider 
and its banks somewhat lower than elsewhere, I jumped in 
and waded through, and Michel, having crossed farther 
down, he and I raced one another across the ice, a contest 
in Which it is no disgrace to say that he had the advantage, 
as he is the fastest walker in Chamounix. Exactly at 4 
I stepped upon the Riffelberg, whose soil I had last trodden 
on the way to the Col de Lys in 1859. At 5 I entered 

* The 23rd sheet of the large Sardinian map, in which this part of the 
chain is depicted, is altogether beneath contempt. 

the Eiffel hotel, and a few minutes after the other half of 
the party came up. We left again at 6, and at 7.20 reached 
Zermatt, where I received a cordial greeting from a circle 

of Alpine friends. 

The entire expedition thus occupied seventeen hours, 
including stoppages of four hours and a quarter, the pas- 
sage from Cour de Lys to the Eiffel having been effected 
in ten hours of actual walking. The excursion is an in- 
teresting one, both in itself and as completing the tour of 
the Lyskamm ; but its charms are certainly inferior to those 
of the companion route by the Col de Lys. It only re- 
mains to give a name to the new pass; I propose to call 
it the Col des Jumeaux. 

Two idle days at Zermatt sped pleasantly away. On the 
26th we crossed the St. Theodule to Chatillon, drove on 
the same evening to Ivrea, and early the next morning 
arrived in Turin, 










By Edward N. Buxton. 

I ARRIYED at Zermatt, accompanied by my friends Mr. 
Cowell and my brother, without any decided plans, but 
ready for any exploration in that district that still remained 
after its diligent working by Members of the Alpine Club. 

From the Col de la Valpelline on our way to Zermatt, 
we saw the Lyskamm standing out grandly, Monte Kosa 
being hidden by a buttress of the Matterhom. The ex- 
celsior spirit was deeply stirred within us, but our 
ambition was doomed to disappointment ; for on arriving 
at the Hotel Monte Eosa we heard that Mr. Hardy had 
been beforehand with us, and had that morning started for 
the Lyskamm with a large party. 

In the evening they all came down to Zermatt, when 
we foimd they had been on the top of the Lyskamm at the 
very time that we were looking at it, and planning to be 
there ourselves. 

It had been one of the hottest days of the unusually hot 
summer of 1861, and the party had been en route eighteen 
or twenty hours: though unwilling to asperse the 
character of fellow A. C's., I am bound to state there was 
not 3- drop of champagne, soda-water or beer to be had in 
the hotel for several days afterwards. 

The next day it poured, and in our heart of hearts we 

were not sorry for it ; for the previous seven nights had 
been spent in phalets, or in the open air, and a good revel 
in hotel luxuries was most acceptable. Besides this, at 
the Hotel Monte Eosa, one is sure to meet many old 
friends, and make many new ones. Discussions on boiling- 
point thermometers, "piolets," and the best shape of 
knickerbockers, are of absorbing interest on these occasions. 
Altogether I look back on that one wet day as one of the 
pleasantest in our month among the mountains. 

In the evening the weather gave signs of clearing ; so 
we lost no time in ascending to the Eiffel, on the chance 
of its being fine enough for work next morning. Our 
hopes of the Lyskamm were blighted; but among the 
Monte Eosa group, the Nord End was still untrodden by 
human feet, and we determined therefore to do our best 
to leave the marks of our boot nails on its summit. 

The early morning shewed a thick fog, but when I 
looked out at about 8 o'clock I found the mist drifting 
past the window in broken patches, and the sun gleaming 
through, as if it meant to shine out in earnest presently. 
I soon roused Cowell and my brother, and we had time to 
reach the top of the splendid ice-fall of JVIr. Ball's Schwarz 
Thor, look down the purple length of the Val d'Ayas, and 
set back aorain before table d'hote. 

We were struck that morning by a remarkable instance 
of the error committed by unaccustomed eyes when 
judging distances in the mountains. A gentleman who 
accompanied us across the glacier, wanted to know, on 
parting, if we should not turn to the left on getting to 
the top of the psiss, and, keeping along the crest of the 
Lyskamm, return by the summit of the Eosa ? He was 
much astonished when we told him that it would be rather 
beyond the limits of a morning walk. 





We all had a great wish to see the view, so rarely 
obtained, of the Italian plains from Monte Rosa, and 
as the next day * promised to be magnificent, and the 
view from the Hochste Spitze would be more uninter- 
rupted than that from the Nord End, and as we were sure 
of getting to the top of the former, while the latter was 
doubtful,— we determined to devote the next day to the 
beaten track. We started soon after midnight, in order to 
reach the top before the morning heat covered Italy with 
its accustomed haze : we got what we wanted, but we paid 
dearly for it. It was an intensely cold night, and our stock 
of heat was hardly sufficient to last out, till the sun came 
to give us a fresh supply : we dared not stop for breakfast, 
which would no doubt have helped to keep out the cold, 
but were obliged to fight against it as best we might. 
Several times I caught myself falling asleep, and stumbling 
backwards on the steeper parts of the slopes ; our boots 
were frozen literally as hard as bricks, and before we 
reached the Saddle, two of our three guides were frost- 
bitten : we managed to recover them, however, in the usual 
way ; and as we were now in bright sunshine, we kept on 
to the top without further inconvenience. Once there, I 
sat down on a rock that had been well warmed by the sun, 
the position was so comfortable that I stayed in it for 
nearly two hours, not thinking of my feet, one of which 
rested against a heap of melting snow. The consequence 
was seve'l-e frost-bite, and when I got up I found my foot 
entirely numb, though I had not felt any sensation of cold 
the whole time I was sitting. I restored the circulation 
without much difficulty, but the evil had taken deeper root 
than I thought, and in the evening the great toe had 
swollen to double its natural size. Cowell and my brother 
spent the next day in sauntering about the Gorner Grat, 
while I hobbled down to Zermatt, and turned up a dirty 



little old man who acted as parish doctor. He pounded 
some common glue, melted it, and applied it all hot to 
the affected part. On my return to the Riffel, I repeated 
the remedy two or three times ; but, from my own 
experience, I cannot recommend it to others. The 
guides, however, all agreed that it was the best re- 
medy. They told us of only one other equally effectual, 
which was, to sit with the foot in a glacier pool, till it 
was frozen again : a treatment which I recommend to 
the notice of homoeopathists. My boot certainly could 
not go on to my foot in its present state ; so, with the 
assistance of our Chamounix guide, Payot, I boldly cut 
away the leather from the whole of the fore part of it, 
leaving only the sole, which I scooped out into a hollow to 
receive the swollen digit ; — with this scientific arrangement 
I hoped to be able to try the Nord End the next day. 
These hopes proved too sanguine, however, for on getting 
up in the morning, I could not wear the boot without 
so much pain as to put walking out of the question ; and I 
was obliged to turn grumbling into bed again, after seeing 
the others start. Some ladies kindly lent me a horse in 
the morning, and I rode up the Gorner Grat, a Vinvalide^ 
to watch their progress. I must own it was not with 
unmixed sorrow that I found all the mountains covered 
with stormy clouds down to a level of 1 1,000 or 12,000 feet ; 
for I thought it likely the Nord End would not fall a 
victim that day, and I might yet have a chance of trying 
it with them on Monday. They had already disappeared 
under the shroud, and there was nothing to watch but 
Mr. Mathews' track, of a day or two old, from the Col 
between the Lyskamm and the Twins, our own on the 
Schwartz Thor, and somebody else's on the Lys Pass. My 
two companions returned early in the afternoon, looking 
very weatherbeaten. They had got as far as the ridge joining 




the Hochste Spitze and Nord End, when the storm of wind 
proved too much for them. There was no immediate 
danger, and they would have gone on a little farther at 
any rate, if Mathew Zum Taugwald (alias Old Tug), had 
not been seized with a panic and began shrieking, "JN'ous 
mourirons tons, nous mouHrons tous!'' And when a 
guide does that, of course one cannot force him to go on, 
however unreasonable his fears may be. 

When my friends reached the hotel again they were 
rather tired of the sight of the long weary slopes, but out of 
compassion for me they kindly agreed to waive their preju- 
dices, and have another try on Monday, by which tinie I 
hoped my foot would be again in working order. Perhaps 
Old Tug may have been right on this occasion. We cer- 
tainly found him steady enough in the tracks he knew. 
We were determined this sort of thing should not happen 
again, and fixed to do without Zermatt men, and take only 
Payot, as cautious and "judgematical" a man as one 
could wish to see, though he chaffed Old Tug unmercifully 
for his fears. On Sunday the weather had again settled 
itself, and the mountain stood out clear and sharp in the 
sunshine, which we took advantage of to make a careful 
survey of the route, from the gap under the Kiffelhorn. I 
had inspected it from the Hochste Spitze, and thought the 
best way would be to turn to the left when below the 
Saddle, and reach the northern point of the arete of 
the Nord End, which would probably prove very similar to 
that of the Hochste Spitze. The only serious obstacle of 
this route was a great bergschrund, extending under the 
whole length of the arete, and over which I could then 
discover no certain passage. This was not the only route 
open to us. The ice-ridge that joins the Hochste Spitze 
and Nord End, appears from the Gomer Grat to be a flat 
col. It is in reality an exceedingly thin wedge, flattened, 













it is true, at its southern end, into a small col of a few 
yards broad, but through the remainder of its length be- 
coming increasingly narrow as it approaches the Nord End. 
Once reach any part of this ridge, and it must be possible 
to get along it. This on the whole seemed the surer way, 
though the other might have been shorter and easier, and 
my companions therefore chose it on the Saturday, and as 
they had met with no insurmountable difficulties as far as 
they went, we saw no reason to change the plan of attack, 
when we renewed the attempt on the Monday. As we had 
only one guide, ^and we did not want to overload him, the 
commissariat arrangements were soon made. Each one 
carried a thick slice or two of bread and meat in his pocket, 
which arrangement had a double advantage. It diminished 
the guide's load, without inconveniencing us, and enabled 
each man to refresh himself when hungry, without stopping 
the whole party and unpacking the knapsack. The route 
pursued for the first two hours to the Auf dem Platte on the 
southern side of the Grorner Griacier, is too well known to 
need further description. The morning was clear and cold, 
patches of cloud, detached from heavy masses that hung 
about the Eympfischhorn and the Strahlhorn, drifted along 
in the north wind, that was hardly felt by us on the glacier. 
They disappeared as they left tie mountain, but condensed 
again on reaching the chilling neighbourhood of Monte Rosa, 
and hung dark and threatening over the long back of the 
Lyskamm. A similar shroud clothed every larger mountain 
in sight. A north wind is always favourable, but the whole 
appearance so closely resembled that which had ushered 
in the bad weather of Saturday, that my companions were 
far from hopeful. Still it was our last chance, and we 
determined to persevere. Our progress was slow, for 
both my brother and myself were somewhat unsound in 
our legs, he with a slightly sprained ankle, and I with my 

VOL. I. 

£ £ 







frozen toe bandaged in many folds of a bit of red carpet. 
" Doucement et tovjours " is, however, an admirable motto 
during a long ascent, and the necessity of keeping to it 
was probably in our favour on this occasioD. The high 
wind during Sunday had obliterated the beaten track up 
the snowy slope, but knowing the way well enough we had 
no need of it. For about three quarters of the distance 
from the Auf dem Platte to the Saddle we followed the usual 
route, then struck across the mountain to the left, finding 
here and there, in sheltered parts, the traces of the ascent 
of the previous Saturday. On coming under the cliffs that 
run down from the Nord End, we halted for a few minutes, 
and again considered the possibility of ascending from 
that side. In spite of some very steep rock-climbing to 
begin with, we thought it might prove accessible, but the 
previous route was the more certain, and by that we again 
started. Trudging on again, we reached a great mass of 
ice that had fallen from a cliff on our right. UDder its 
shelter we halted, and made a frugal meal off our bread 
and butter, drank a bottle of wine, and left another for our 
return. As the cold was great, and the wind and clouds 
were increasing, we put on a few extra articles of clothing, 
such as flannel shirts over our waistcoats, and woollen 
socks over our gloves, with holes cut for the thumbs. I 
had carried off a thick coarse blanket from my bed, through 
a hole in the centre of which I pushed my head, and en- 
closed the flowing ends in my belt, while my companions 
enveloped themselves in their more ornamental but not 
more useful Scotch plaids. The least elegant part of our 
costume was the handkerchief that each tied across his 
face, to protect nose and ears from frost-bite. Payot then 
led the way, I followed, Cowell brought up the rear, my 
brother marching between us, as he was the only one without 
an axe. The first obstacle we met with after zigzagging up 

for some way, was a small crevasse, the upper edge of 
which required much chopping before it was reduced to a 
form at all fit to be climbed. The snow was in perfect 
condition, and though very steep, it was easy to kick our 
footsteps with only occasional use of the " piolets." We 
now struck straight up towards the peak, hoping to save 
the long detour to the right that had before been taken. 
Our work, however, was not to be cut short in that way, and 
we were soon brought to a check by a large bergschrund, 
which is to be clearly seen in every photograph taken in 
1861, running up in a slanting direction from almost 
below the Nord End towards the Hochste Spitze. 

It stood us, however, in good stead, for when we reached 
it, it was hollowed out into a long cavern of the form of 
the letter C. A more beautiful resting-place could not be 
imagined. The wall, never reached by the sun, was of deep 
transparent blue, while, from the roof above, hung down a 
forest of long clear icicles, each adorned with two or three 
lace-like fringes of hoar-frost. We had to sweep them 
down with our poles to get in, and then found ourselves 
entirely sheltered from the wind that raged without. By 
kicking our feet against the hard sides we soon restored 
circulation. Some twenty feet to the left, the lower jaw of 
the crevasse rising steeply nearly met the upper, which we 
hoped to cut away and surmount. Payot chopped away 
vigorously for some time ; but on gaining a view of the 
upper surface it was so nearly perpendicular that we de- 
termined to proceed southwards along the bergschrund in 
search of a more hopeful spot. On leaving our fairy grotto, 
each in turn had to jump down about four feet to the 
snow, which seemed to offer a sound footing. It bore us 
all safely till Cowell leapt down, when the snow gave way, 
and he lost his foothold. The axe which he drove into 
the snow was coated with a thin film of ice and slipped 

E E 2 

<•» ; •>, 





ii^, i'i 

through his fingers, and down he slid till stopped by the 
rope. It was a proof of the almost perfect security afforded 
by a rope when rightly used. We much grudged having to 
skirt the crevasse, as every step took us farther away from the 
object of our ambition, but nowhere could we cross till we 
reached the top of the ridge connecting the two peaks at a 
point about three quarters of the distance from the Nord 
End, which was the highest point reached on the previous 
Saturday, by my companions. Through the thick clouds 
they had caught a glimpse of some rocks which they then 
supposed to be the Nord End itself. Now, however, the 
clouds had blown over, and we saw that they were midway 
between the two great peaks of Monte Rosa. They are 
clearly seen in all photographs taken in 1861, but in the 
cold season of 1860 the melting of the snow was not suffi- 
cient to expose them. 

We now set to work vigorously along the ridge. Every 
step had to be cut, and as the ice was as hard as rock, and 
as the wind blew with a fury we had never experienced, 
our progress was far from rapid. 

The brilliant sunshine and fierce freezing wind were in 
strange contrast. Often when the wind was most furious 
we had to halt and prop our right knee against the icy 
wall to prevent being blown over the threatening precipice 
that forms the Italian side of the mountain. 

For an hour we worked along this ridge before reaching 
the rocks, which we found to project only a few inches 
from the ice ; but it was a shelter not to be despised, 
though only to be enjoyed by throwing ourselves down 
flat on our faces, in which position, exposed to sunshine, 
and hidden from the wind, we kicked back a little 
circulation into our benumbed feet and fingers. Then 
on again for another two hours exposed to the wind, the 
ridc^e becominc^ more and more naiTOW, and the side 

steeper along which we had to go, for the crest itself in 
most parts overhung the precipices. 

At last the rocks were won at one o'clock. I detached 
myself from the rope and clambered up the remaining 
thirty or forty feet of rough jagged rock to the last peak, 
and secured the highest fragment of stone as a reward for 
being the first man there. Then, with Payot's assistance, I 
built up a small cairn rouhd a short pole, on which we 
hoisted a red handkerchief as a trophy. 

The others soon followed to enjoy a view, clearer, if 
possible, than that seen from the Hochste Spitze a few 
days before. In other respects it was much like the view 
from that point, but it wanted the noble chain of moun- 
tains to the South, which were cut off by the large bold 
curve of the " Kamm " itself, rising like a gigantic crest 
from the snowy mass of the mountain. 

On setting up the boiling water apparatus, we were 
dismayed to find that among the thermometers the only 
one available for the greatest heights had been left behind. 
We were thus unable to determine the elevation of this 

our only new peak. 

After three quarters of an hour on the top, and among 
the sheltering crags just below it, we again roped ourselves 
together, and commenced our retreat in the reverse order 
to that of our ascent. Th$ wind was as high as before, 
but the steps were large and well cut, and away we went, 
too fast this time to feel the cold. Leaving the ridge we 
took to the steep slopes, and soon after reached our bottle 
of wine under the boulder of ice, having descended in fifty 
minutes what had taken us full four hours to ascend. 

Having divested ourselves of our extra clothing, we 
proceeded again down the long weary slopes now traversed 
for the eighth time by my brother and myself. Accord- 
ing to the estabUshed custom of the country, we halted 


/* , -f 




again at the Auf dem Platte, and finished the small supply 
of provisions that had been left there. The plain glacier 
was now before us, after which came the narrow dusty 
path up the opposite mountain, whence we looked a last 
farewell to the brave old mountain now bathed in ruddy 
glory by the rays of the setting sun, which threw the long 
bold shadow of the Matterhorn far up the glacier at our 
feet. Keluctantly turning our backs upon it, we hurried 
on to the hotel. The excursion had occupied sixteen 
hours and a half, including nearly two hours for halts. 
The evening closed in upon us, enjoying that happy mix- 
ture of health and fatigue that can discover for itself the 
truest luxury even among the rough and crowded comforts 
of the salon in the Eiffel Hotel. 






2njUsh Miles 

EasT* WeUfiT. 

Jiondon: Jjongman & Co. 

D^ Brinzoris Route 



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landon: Lorunruin. & Co. 

Dr BririTim's Route 



By William Brinton, M.D, 


For many years it has been my habit to spend a few 
weeks m ^a^ch summer among the Grerman Alps. Pre- 
ferring tljose regions to Switzerland, I have repeatedly 
travers^d^jtheir mountains and passes, alone and on foot, 
superadding to the rare pleasures of fresh air and exercise 
the more exciting amusement of path-finding, a pursuit 
which, ,even amid Alpine fastnesses, is, to those who join 
early taSte with long experience, perhaps scarcely more 
dangerous than fox-hunting or other recognised amuse- 
ments of similar character. 

After an interval of twelve years, I once more found 
myself, on August 1861, neai' the Gross Glockner, and in 
weather which promised some amends for the disappoint- 
ments I had formerly suffered, by allowing me at last to 
make the ascent I had twice been obliged to forego. 

The Gross Glockner may be regarded as a very ac- 
cessible peak, that offers nothing to deter an average 
pedestrian. It is about 12,790 English feet in height, 
and consequently overtops by 150 feet the Orteler Spitz 
which was formerly considered the highest peak in 
Germany. It rises from a mass of mountain and glacier, 
forming part of the main chain of the Alps, 100 miles 
North of the Adriatic. East of the Swiss frontier, the 
whole northern slope of the Alps drains its waters into the 
Danube by a succession of streams, viz., the Iller, the 


♦I I 






Wertach, the Lech, the Isar, the Inn, the Salzach, and the 
Enns. Of these, two only run for any considerable part 
of their course parallel to the main range ; the Inn and 
the Salzach. At the western extremity of the valley of 
the Salzach, the main chain widens out into an enormous 
mass ; the chief peak of which, the Grosser Venediger, forms 
a kind of obeUsk, that marks the natural and geographical 
division of the southern slope of the German Alps. In 
exact correspondence with the separation of the old 
Eoman provinces, the boundaries of which are still 
retained in the names " Eh^tian " and " Noric " Alps, this 
great block is the watershed of the southern streams of 
the general Alpine ridge, which flow eastward into the. 
Black Sea, westward into the Adriatic. 

On the northern side of this mass begins the Salzach ; 
into the first half of which, as it flows eastward, there 
tumble, at right-angled intervals, almost as regular as the 
successive rungs of a ladder, a series of torrents, coming 
due northward from the mighty watershed of the Noric 
Alps. And opposite this point rises the mass which cul- 
minates in the Gross Glockner. 

East of the Glockner, the main ridge of the Alps is for 
the most part narrowed to a snow-belt, of one or two miles 
in extent from its northern to its southern limit. But, 
about forty miles from the great mass of the Glockner, the 
mountains tower once more, and the snow limit widens to 
five or six miles around the Hoch-Alpenspitz ; which, with 
its neighbours the Hafnereck and Sonnenblick, may be 
almost regarded as the last outposts of the army of these 
Alpine giants ; and eastward of which, the central chain 
bends northward towards the Radstadter Tauem as a 
range of mountains of comparatively subordinate import 
and size. West of the Glockner, the glacier-field contracts 
to a narrower limit at the Kaiser Tauem, beyond which 

it again expands into an irregular field, averaging about 
three miles in width, of which, as usual throughout the 
whole Alps, the smaller portion lies on the steep southern 
declivity. The continuous surfaces of snow and ice thus 
isolated by the Heiligenbluter Tauem on the E., and 
less exactly or constantly by the snowy /m which usually 
covers the Alter or Velber Tauem on the W., may be 

. a b c d ^ e 


a Ketterberg & Hohenwartskopf. c Gross Glockner, the first or topmost peak having the 
second foreshortened, below it. d Roraeriskenwand. c Johannisberg. / produced hori- 
zontally, strikes the crevasse at the foot of the second peak. 

estimated as having a total area of not much less than 
150 square miles; an extent which suggests some doubt 
whether the scenery of the German Alps can rightly 
be regarded as on a small scale, even when compared 
with Switzerland. 

After a few short excursions in the Bavarian highlands, 
I hastened to Innsbruck, and travelled the same afternoon 
down the Inn valley to Woergle, thence striking east- 
ward along a post road to Hopfgarten ; whence, early next 







morning, I made use of the last hour or two of decent 
weather by ascending the Hohen Salve, a kind of German 
Kighi, which has a height of about 5,870 feet above 
the level of the sea, and commands one of the widest 
panoramas in all this mountainous region. 

Three days of travelling in continuously wet weather 
brought me to Wildbad Gastein ; where, on the following 
day, the weather cleared, and left the summits of the sur- 
rounding mountains promisingly covered with snow. A 
walk or two in the neighbourhood filled up a couple of 
mornings. Another day saw me over the main chain ot 
Alps ascending the Herzog Ernst on the way to sleep at 
Dollach in the MoUthal. The next morning I breakfasted 
in HeiUgenblut, a few miles higher up the valley, and in 
view of the Gross Glockner itself. 

By William Brinton, M.D. 

In spite of two sleepless nights, I was afraid to postpone 
my excursion, and felt that in such fine weather, it was 
better to count upon a nap at the Ochsenhiitte, where it is 
usual to halt on the way up the Glockner. So after loung- 
ing away the remainder of the forenoon on the hill side 
above Heiligenblut, and dining at the inn there, I started 
at 2.30 P.M. with one of the guides, who was to carry the 
necessary provisions until we picked up the two others on 
our way. 

The afternoon was close and sultry, and the air in the 
valley perfectly still, so that we took our time up the path 
which, after crossing the Moll torrent, half a mile or so 
above the church, ascends the terrace on its right, to turn 
the projecting shoulder of the Krockerberg, a mountain at 
the opening of the Leiterthal, a western tributary of the 
main valley. Shortly before crossing the Leiterbach, at a 
point a little above the waterfall by which it joins the Moll 
in the main valley, we were reinforced by the two other 
guides, and entered upon the Katzensteig, a good though 
rather rough path, often some two or three hundred feet 
above the torrent, and on its left bank. 

The danger and difficulty of this stage of the ascent 
have been greatly exaggerated : only one or two places pre- 
senting any excuse for the use of hands as well as feet. 
By and by the steep ridge on the right hand of the path 


■ < I 


■ .1 

h I 


lowers, the valley opens out, and reveals, a little above the 
bed of the torrent, a couple of huts which axe to afford us 

our night's lodging. 

An easy stroll, in a blazing afternoon like this, scarcely 
deserves any notice, as regards the time which it has 
occupied. But what between walking slowly, and halting to 
give the neighbourhood a careful scrutiny, exactly two hours 
and a half had been occupied in the march from Heiligen- 


The Sennerinn was away, but we soon discovered her on 
the mountain side getting grass, and a jodel or two brought 

her towards us. 

Meanwhile sunset approached, and lit up the steep 
overhanging foot of the Kleine Fleiss Gletscher far off on 
the other side of Heiligenblut, with a gorgeous rose- 
coloured light that placed its icy ma^s in such vivid relief 
against the deep blue vault overhead us, as apparently to 
bring it within a tithe of its real distance. 

Thne slips away quickly on the mountain-side; and the 
approach of night sent me to my hay-loft; where, rolled 
up to the neck in a plaid by one of the guides, and then 
covered lightly over with fragrant hay, I was soon fanned 
to sleep by numberless delicious little breezes, which crept 
under the shingles of the roof, and played upon my face 
with a sedative effect which I could not help thinking a 
vampire would hardly have surpassed. On the other side 
of a partition behind me, the guides and the Sennermn 
kept up a conversation over the fire in the body of the 
hut; a talking and laughiug, which to my ears gradually 
became disjointed and amorphous, and finally dissolved mto 


By and by I awoke, with a clear perception that the 
limitary hour of 11.30 P.M. which we had assigned our- 
selves had arrived. The air smelt of midnight ; the whole 



Aim was perfectly still. But in a minute or two, there 
came a slight stir in the hut, a raking of the embers, a 
knock at the door, and our day had begun. A couple of 
tumblers of excellent " cafe au lait " were soon despatched, 
and we started at 12.15 a.m. for the Gross Glockner. 

The night was chill and dark ; though starlit, and almost 
cloudless. What little air we found moving came down 
the valley towards us. The roughness of the path obliged 
us to take lanterns. 

The Sennerinn sends us her blessing, as we march out 
into the darkness, plunge down the hollow, and cross the 
plank which leads over the torrent to the path on the other 
side. At first no one speaks, the silence around is un- 
broken, save by the dashing of the torrent beneath. 

By and by the moon rises, and lights the scenery 
around us more distinctly. And so we go up and up the 
Leiterthal, until at length we come to a huge boulder, 
which marks what was formerly the lowest part of the 
side moraine of the Gletscher. Under this friendly roof 
we sit down to divide our store of provisions into three 
portions — one which each of us carefully stows away 
precisely in his centre of gravity, at a point (as is well 
known to physiologists) lying just in front of the vertebral 
column, and behind the lowest button of the waistcoat; 
one which, with the kraxe or basket, is left under the 
boulder to form our dinner on returning; and a third 
which is carried in a scrip by one of the guides. 

Rising to pursue our way, the wind comes down upon 
us from the mountains over the Gletscher, and hustles us 
roughly, besides blowing out our lantern once or twice. 
But soon we climb the sloping foot of the Gletscher, and 
proceed to put on our Steigeisen or crampons, as' well as to 
tie ourselves two and two, with an interval of some twenty 
or thirty feet of rope between the attached friends. These 



precautions taken, the file again advances, keeping steadily 
np the glacier towards its central part, where, to the left 
of the saddle over which we have to pass, the Gross 
Glockner itself has just come into sight. After crossing a 
few crevasses, the approach of dawn enables us to dispense 

with the lantern. 

By and by, still going up the glaciers but inclining 
towards the eastern side, we approach the ridge which 
descends from the Kellerberg and encloses this side of the 
Gletscher, mount a steepish slope of snow, and another 
incline of Geschiitt of about the same angle (40°), and 
come out on the Hohenwartscharte, a Joch or saddle 
between the Kellerberg and the Hohenwartskopf. We 
have thus completed the second part of the ascent, and 
climbed the ridge of the Glockner some 6,500 yards to the 
S.E. of this peak itself, and at a level of about 2,000 feet 

below its own height. 

The view from this point over the Pasterzen * Kees and 
the Leiter Kees, east and west respectively, well shows the 
great difference of level between these glaciers on the 
opposite sides of the Glockner ridge. The height of the 
terrace from which the Leiterbach breaks into the Moll, 
the length of the curved Leiterthal, and its steady 
gradual inclination upwards to within a few hundred 
yards of the Hohenwartscharte, are precisely the reasons 
why it forms the route up the Glockner, as well as why, 
looking down hence towards the Pasterzen Kees, you see a 
smooth rounded surface of snow cutting across the line of 
sight so as quite to prevent any glimpse of the base of the 
drclivity; and showing, in the few yards visible, not only 
an ugly crevasse or two, but an inclination such, that the 

♦ In the Noric Alps a glacier is called a Kec6, UteraHy a cheese, from its 
coagulated or curdy appearance. 



thought of descending it, even with crampons, makes the 
soles of your feet tingle. 

From the Hohenwartscharte, our course henceforth 
was north-westerly, on the eastern side of the ridge. 
Leaving on our left the projection of the Hohenwartskopf 
— which, though 380 feet above the ridge, seemed little 
more than a knoll of snow surmounted by rocks, — we 
passed carefully along the rounded base of the mountain, 
over snow-fields of variable consistence, but, in the main, 
neither so soft as to be heavy walking, nor so hard as to 
be dangerously slippery. In this course we necessarily 
avoided most of the crevasses which run parallel to the 
ridge, and mark the sudden increase in the steepness of 
its eastern slope down towards the Pasterzen Kees. The 
depth of the firn here is of course a matter of the merest 
conjecture. But I should imagine, from the generally 
shrunken condition of the glaciers in this region during 
the protracted heat of the summer of 1861, as well as from 
the arrangement of the broken edges of the snow-layers 
on other parts of this ridge, and from the protection which 
its shape and direction afford this side against direct solar 
ravs, that the firn on this ridge is always deep enough to 
cover the rago'ed rorks beneath it for a depth of some 
twenty to forty feet. 

We now trudged onwards and upwards over the slope 
(the fall of which on either hand gave a full view below, 
with little or no peril), until, first passing along the eastern 
edge of a long ridge (or rather parallelogram) of rocks, 
which here forms the crest of the mountain, and then 
exploring their middle, we reached the Adlersruhe, where 
we had decided to call a halt and prepare for the final 


The Adlersruhe (Eagle's Nest) is a point which lies near 
the western edge of the jagged mass of rocks here forming 

VOL. T. F F 





the crest of the mountain, and is occupied by the remains 
of a hut, said to have been built by Prince Salm in 1800, 
at the time of the first ascent. Our guides suggested for 
it the name of the « Glockner Hotel," or " Gasthof zum 
Alien Mann;" and we agreed that visitors would find the 
charges moderate, with no extras, and all wines carefully 
iced\y the landlord himself. The want of roof, door, 
and windows, and the difficulty of access, are, however, 
drawbacks. It is stated that the whole hut once dis- 
appeared for some yearstogether, being completely covered 
by the glacier,-! presume by the firn descending from 
above. But judging from other acco.mts, it seems quite 
as likely that its concealment was effected by the winds 
heaping up a snow-board (Schneebrett) from the western 
Bide. However this may be, the position is evidently 
much too exposed to form a good post of continuous 


By the time we had reached this shelter, the wind was 
blowing quite hard enough to make it a pleasure to sit 
down under the lee of its low walls for a few mmutes. 
Soon, Imwever, we quitted it, and left the rocks once 
more for the open snow, the rounded surface of which, 
as before, formed the highest part of the ridge, and com- 
manded the valleys on either side. Looking down on the 
left for instance, we saw a vast compartment of the 
clacier, separated from the mass further south by a kind of 
rocky rib, which sank down towards it from the rocks we 
had just left, and only subsided where the descendmg 
slope of the glacier turned an angle to join the branch 
of the -lacier we had ourselves climbed by. And, to my 
.reat delight, two tiny black specks, which, though con- 
Jecturally some mile and a half distant, looked to my 
straining sight too flat, too uniform, and too isolated for 
rocks, began, just as I was gazing at them, a perceptible 




movement, that made me no longer hesitate to pronounce 
them unmistakable chamois. Great was the amiisement 
of the guides at what they fancied an effort of the 
imaginative enthusiasm common to tourists, and nothing 
but my having a telescope at hand would perhaps have 
convinced them. These graceful creatures were trotting 
lightly and cautiously over the glacier, apparently quite 
unconscious of our presence. That we should not have 
l)een seen by them is intelligible enough, forming, as we 
did to their view, four small black dots against a blazing 
white snow-field, and near plenty of rocks not very unlike 
us in shape and size. But considering that we were 
laughing and talking, and that the wind was blowing hard 
from where we stood in their direction, it did seem as 
though either their senses of hearing and smell were 
casually blunted by the pre-occupation of crossing the dan- 
gerous glacier, with its crevasses hidden by snow, or that 
the wind which howled about our ears failed to dive deeply 
enough into the valley to reach them. On raising our 
voices to a shout, they stopped short and looked suspi- 
ciously round, but without seeing us. A second shout 
exposed us, and after a single glance they broke into 
their light swinging gallop, the largest (a buck) going 
first, until they were speedily lost behind a projection of 


After this momentary interruption, we stepped out 
briskly up the snowy ridge ; from whence, looking towards 
the N.E., we saw the sky, — elsewhere bright enough, here 
of a very ugly dun colour, — suggesting the approach of 
even a stronger gale from that quarter than we were now 
experiencing. On it came, indeed, quickly enough, to the 
disgust of the guides, who spoke of it spitefully as a 
" Salzhnrger Wetter,'' coming from a quarter which in this 
region generally proves a stormy one, devoid of all the 

F F 2 



urbanity one might expect in a visitor from the capital city 
of the province on this northern side of the mountain. 
Harder and harder did it blow, until we fairly leaned 
towards the eastern or Pasterzen slope, to avoid being 
blown away. All of a sudden came a series of smart cuts 
against my face ; and on looking to windward, with a 
schoolboy s sense of injury at the unfair hardness of this 
variety of snow-balls, I saw a whole flight of flat white- 
looking things, which rose from the rounded shoulder of 
the mountain some distance below us, and came skimming 
upwards on the wind. Not wishing to be cut dead, I dis- 
creetly turned away my face, but managed to catch one 
or two of them with my hands in passing. They were 
plates of ice, of one or two lines in thickness, and several 
inches in surface, delicately skimmed off the top of the 
fim by these tremendous blasts of wind, and set whirling at 
a pace which really made them dangerous to the face and 
eyes. By and bye, when these strange travellers had all 
hurried over the ridge out of Salzburg into Tyrol, and any 
further liberation of such ice-plates seemed to be prevented 
by the greater cohesion and softness of the now denuded 
firn, the wind increased so greatly in violence, that there 
wa.s really nothing for it but to lie down on the snow 
during each blast ; and it seemed almost a question whether 
the steep ice^slope, up which we should have to hew our 
way as the next stage of the ascent, could be attempted at 
all. However, a little patience soon mended matters. The 
"old man," apparently satisfied with our repeated pro- 
strations before his throne, relented ; the wind gradually 
lulled; and by the time we had reached the foot of the 
steep incline that begins the peak of the Glockner, there 
was no wind more violent than promised just to season our 
climbing with an additional motive for keeping our toes in 
the steps— if, indeed, we did not escape the blasts al- 


together by the inclination of our ice-ladder to the western 
or leeward side of the peak. 

The cone which, bifurcating at its summit, forms the 
two points of the Glockner, starts from what I believe to 
be a constant crevasse, that passes almost transversely 
across the ridge along which we had ascended from the 
S. The crevasse itself I could distinguish from Heiligen- 
blut with the naked eye : so that it is justifiably indicated 
in the sketch (p. 444) from this place. In our ascent we 
found it about six or seven feet wide, its northern edge 
being about five feet higher than its southern one. But 
a tongue of ice near its middle offered an easy jump, and 
a single step cut in its upper margin made its further 
transit safe enough. Henceforward we ascended by hew- 
ing a series of steps, which, carefully placed for the right 
and left foot alternately to the number of some two or 
three hundred, took us up the ice-slope that led, with 
an angle of 50°, to the second peak. 

The second peak, so called because it is the first arrived 
at, is a part of the general ridge, about 200 to 250 yards 
to the S.E. of the highest peak, and about fifty feet 
lower. Its summit, nowhere quite level, is wide enough 
to allow a group of a dozen people to stand upon it. Our 
stay here was short. Looking well to our ropes, we 
climbed down a steep slope, apparently consisting of large 
blocks of rock, of which the interstices were here and there 
snowed up into continuous walls and flats of snow, like a 
series of gigantic steps. In bad summers, this steep and 
treacherous snowy surface is sometimes scarcely to be passed, 
save by slinging the tourist down the single declivity into 
which these steps have then been transformed. We found 
it easy enough, the amount of snow being probably at its 
mivimum. On reaching the bottom of this slope, we 
found ourselves on the southern brink of a picturescpie- 




looking chasm, which cuts athwart the ridge, and is tra- 
versed only by a beautiful slender edge of snow, to right 
and left of which the slope of the mountain on either hand 
seems scarcely less than 65"", 70°, or 80°,— in fact little better 
than a precipice. The length of this snow-crest is es- 
timated in Baedeker's Handbook at 60 fathoms; but I 
should judge that it scarcely exceeds as many feet. Its 
width, until trampled out, is nil,—B. mere edge of snow, 
which, like the mythical bridge {Al Sirat) that leads to the 
Mahometan paradise, can only be traversed in safety by 
those accustomed through life to walk uprightly. Not 
having the post of honour, I found it already a respectable 
track of some six or eight inches in width, when I crossed. 
However, my transit seemed the completion of a kind of 
graduation in the eyes of the guides, who thereafter al- 
lowed me to climb up the broken rocks which rise at an 
ano-le of about 60°, from the northern end of this snow- 
ridge to the highest peak, and even permitted me to retain 
my alpenstock in one hand, and climb exclusively with 
the other. In a minute or two this final ascent was ef- 
fected, and the summit was won. 

It was now 6.45 a.m. ; so that we had been exactly six 
and a half hours in ascending from the Leiterhiitte. In 
addition to various short halts, we had made one or two 
serious assaults upon our food, — assaults which, even when 
I could not aid in them, it was pleasant (not to say tonic) 
to look upon. Nevertheless, the guides assured me that 
they had never before gone so quickly, or reached the 

summit so early. 

Doubtless we had been somewhat favoured by the 
weather. But on the whole, I suspect that the slowness 
of many of the previous ascents was due neither to the 
weather nor to the guides : and venture to predict that, 
with fewer guides, and a smaller burden of provisions, some 


of my countrymen will hereafter make this ascent in as 
little as four and a half or five hours from the Leiterhiitte. 
No reader expects me to describe what we saw, or even 
to record my impressions. But I think that a tall peak, 
which a pedestrian has never ascended before, generally 
gives him an impression, as he gains its summit, of being 
suddenly carried there, as though into another world. 
The vast panorama leaps into the eyes and sinks down 
deeply into the brain, there to remain (it may fairly be 
hoped) for a lifetime. So delightful is this feeling that, 
even supposing the last few hundred yards of ascent do 
not demand undivided attention,— even if the peak do not 
shut out the coming prospect, or the continuous watchful- 
ness over hand and foot,— the careful scrutiny ahead for 
this little edge of rock which is to be grasped by the 
fingers, or of that little fissure which will first receive the 
toes, equally forbid all further prospect,-I suspect the wary 
pedestrian rather defers than anticipates his pleasure. 
And then, on reaching the summit, as he turns round to 
all points of the compass, and everywhere sees the giant 
forms of the surrounding mountains,— a stately company of 
hundreds and thousands, sitting in open ranks, that fade 
away in apparently endless perspective, — it is only in a 
geodetic sense that he looks down on them. Mentally, indeed, 
he wonders and reveres, like the dazed Gaul on entering the 
Koman senate ; and since the rarity of human footsteps 
in these solitudes sets him speculating as an involuntary 
antiquarian upon previous visitors, he feels little surprise 
that our heathen predecessors on this earth worshipped in 
high places, or roamed with Bacchus on the mountains. 
After all, the best way to convey an impression of the 
Gross Glockner is to describe it as being, not a " specular 
mount," with a wide view like that from the shoulder of 
the Monte Viso, over Italy, but rather the topmost of a 



throng of peaks ; — an assembly of giants, towered over by 
a chieftain, himself taller by head and shoulders than them 
all. Plains and cities are almost wanting, save in the 
rarest and clearest weather. Mountain peaks, deep valleys, 
distances of incredible perspective, sky and cloud of all im- 
aginable hues and consistencies, — these are what I saw. 

From the northern to the western point of the compass 
rose darkly against the sky, about seventy miles off in a 
direct line, a host of familiar forms of various mountains 
in the Bavarian Highlands, from which many a time had I 
gazed away a long summer's day, sweeping with my tele- 
scope over the very peak on which I was now standing, — 
the Halsl Spitz, the Planberg, the Risser Kogl, the Rosz- 
stein, the Uuniitz, and others. The quadrant ranging from 
the N. to the E. was still sailed over by occasional clouds, 
through the breaks in which, however, were seen the well- 
known outlines of the Tannengebirge and the Uebergos- 
zene Alp, cloven into two enormous masses by the valley 
leading to Salzburg, and, to the left of these, the Steinemes 
Meer and the Watzmann. On the south-east came the 
Goldberg group ; among them the Herzog Ernst, which 
I had climbed two days before, and the Hochnarr, which I 
climbed two days after, both respectable mountains, each 
of ten or eleven thousand feet in height. To the S. lay 
the Italian Tyrol, and to the \V. the chief peaks of the 
Rhsetian Alps, all still rosy with the dawn, and sharply de- 
fined at distances which, in the case of the Wild Spitz in 
the Oetzthal, and the Orteler Spitz, respectively attain 115 
and 130 Engflish miles in a direct line. Nearer still were 
the Gross Venediger and the Drei Herrn Spitz, placed at the 
head of the Ziller Thai, as the bounds of the Noric and Rhae- 
tian Alps, which latter mountains seemed to shut out the 
view of some of the higher Swiss Alps, and especially of the 
Bernina. Of the valleys, the most noticeable, after the 



vast field of the Pasterzen Kees below us on the E., were 
those of the western declivity : the ravines of the Kodnitz 
and of the Teischnitz Bach from the glaciers on this side of 
the Glockner, tributaries of the Dorfer Bach, which occupies 
the long valley that runs southward under the Glockner 
range from the Kaiser Tavern ; and beyond this the parallel 
valley which runs down from the Velber or Matreier Tauern, 
and which, where its southern end opens out to receive at 
an angle the Isel Bach from the W. is occupied by the 
village of Windisch Matrey. 

But even mountain ascents have solemnities which 
seem to claim observance before an undivided attention 
can be given to the scenery. Eating and drinking, in 
however small a quantity, are acts which seem to propi- 
tiate the "old man" towards his visitors. And after we 
had duly fulfilled this routine, and drank to each others' 
health, I could do no less than evince my proper feeling 
of affiliation and respect towards the club of which I have 
the honour to be a member, by drinking the health of its 
president. The toast, briefly introduced, was duly re- 
sponded to : the " Gesellschaft der Bergsteiger" excited 
much interest, and a very few words descriptive of the 
courage and experience of its president evoked the enthu- 
siasm of these sympathising mountaineers : so that we 
shouted out, " Es lebe der Herr Ken-neh-di," with all the 
honours due to his office, at a level of about 13,000 feet 
above the sea. Then came another and very different 
ceremony, never, I believe, omitted by the guides who 
accompanied me, and so perfectly in consonance with the 
simple piety of the Tyrolese mountaineer, that it did not 
strike me as at all unusual. All three knelt down and 
repeated a short series of prayers, which, so far as I could 
identifv the Latin, seemed to be the " rosenkranz," or 
rosary that form?^ the morning prayer of the pea^^antry of 


these valleys. When this had been reverently concluded 
I rummaged the small field of snow and rock which formed 
our domain for a couple of tokens, mineral and vegetable, 
of my visit — finding the one in a small piece of quartz, 
the other in a lichen, which I scratched off one of the 
topmost blocks of the pinnacle. Then came another 
long circumspection over the scene ; and at last, after 
about half an hour of this prospect, the extension of the 
Salzburger Wetter on the north-east into a dark twirling 
storm of snow, with misty edges, driven by a wind with 
a violence bordering on a hurricane, suggested to us 
that it might be safer to beat a retreat. So we struck 
our camp, bade farewell to the " old man," and began to 


We go down tTie crag of the topmost peak, across the 
knife edge of Al Sirat, up again to the second peak, and 
down our ice-steps to the landing. The "old man," 
indeed, not only followed us to the bottom of this his 
staircase, and over the crevasse which forms his threshold, 
in the shape of a howling wind, and a few tears of melting 
snow, but, arrived here, his hospitable feelings fairly over- 
mastered him, and he fell on our necks as a tremendous 
gale, which, in its enthusiasm, quite got the better of us, 
and all but blew us over the western ridge down the 
glacier into Tyrol. Here, indeed, occurred the deplorable 
accident of the excursion. My hat, which I had carefully 
chosen years before to be comfortable and unconspicuous 
among its kindred in the Bavarian Highlands, I had 
cautiously tied on with a string, and, fully confiding in 
the strength of its attachment, had allowed it to nod 
its recognition of the attentions of the vagrant wind: 
when, to my horror, a sudden gust tore it from my 
head, leaving pendent from my button-hole the string 
and ribbon. The reader will judge my feelings when 



I saw a conical green hat, the companion of so many ex- 
cursions, revolving with frightful rapidity on its own axis 
while it careered madly over the smooth snow-slope, down 
towards the glacier, at a rate of twenty or thirty miles an 
hour. In an instant I was left desolate, to meditate 
gloomily over the mutations of the fates, and especially to 
question destiny why, in all ages and countries, they who 
sew on buttons and ribbons never sew them on aright. Of 
course all recovery of the lost hat was hopeless. Doubtless 
it either rolled into a crevasse, or drifted on to some ledge 
of snow, to form an exhibition for all the vagrant genisen 
of the neighbourhood. A handkerchief, covered by a 
night-cap, which one of the guides fortunately had inside 
his hat, replaced it for the time. As the sun soon came 
out hotly enough, I was somewhat, in dread of* snow- 
blindness, yet this, like most of the evils we expect, did not 
come ; and we made a swift and easy descent, after calling 
at the Adlersruhe again, down to the Hohenwartscharte, 
and thence descended the Schrund and Gletscher to our 
store of provisions under the boulder. 

From the Ochsenhiitte, we rapidly descended the 
Leiterthal into the main valley, and reached Heiligen- 
blut about 2 r.M. Here the landlord kindly relieved my 
anxieties, by transferring to me a most respectable new 
hat, whereunto a tailor at work in the common room of 

* It is, however, generally agreed that the unrelieved and monotonous 
white expanse of snow and cloud on a cloudy day is far more provocative 
of snow-blindness than the glare of the sun on a bright cloudless day. But 
it is very questionable how much of this result is really in the eye ; how 
much outside the organ, in the moist membrane which covers it and lines 
the lids. And it is certain that the stratum of cloud modifies both the 
heat, and the vapour, of the air between it and the snowy surface to a 
degree that might well account for the resulting inflammation, in wliich the 
skin of the face and mucous membrane (coni'unctiva) of the eye often con- 
cur. It is interesting to notice that, in the hot vaporous air of the Japanese 
Ocean, the effect of cloudy weather in burning the face has been recently no- 
ticed (Maury's Geography of the Sea). 


the inn affixed the green ribbon of my old one, and so 
toned down its otherwise too episcopal character. Thus 
once more equipped for travel in what I really believe 
was the only new hat within thirty or forty miles, I was 
able to stroll about the village, and gaze, insatiable, at 
the scenery around, before spending a delightful evening 
in the society of the Grerman savants — two or three 
of them of the highest eminence— whom the parlour of 



this unpretending inn generally contains at this time of 
the year. Still, however, not the evening, nor the long 
Sunday of comparative rest which I intercalated be- 
tween this ascent of the Glockner and a far more difficult 
excursion on the ensuing Monday, could get my poor hat 
out of my thoughts. Whether it went down a crevasse ; 
whether, if so, it was destined to turn up again ; in how 
many years ; how many yards off ; how far bereft of such 
separable accidents as form and colour it would re-appear 



when the " Kees reinigte sich,'' or cleansed itself, by a slow 
disgorgement, of such indigestible food, remains an open 

Note. — I must acknowledge the obligation I am under, 
in the compilation of the map, to that published by Dr. Keil of 



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VOL. 11. 





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l« ! i LPwn i j la ripp.— »M^i 

Vesci aurA sctherea jucundum vertice mnntis, 
Ardua respicere, et flextram conjuii^ere dextra;. 






^' ■•-^^ 





1. The Ascent op the Schreckhorn. By the Rev. Leslie Stephen, M.A. 

2. The Passage op the Eiger Joch. By the Rev. Leslie Stephen, M.A. 

3. The AscENTOFTHE Aletschhorn. By F. F. Tuekett, F.R.G.S. . 

4. From the Grutli to the Grimsel. By R. W. Elliot Forster . 

. 3 

. 15 

. .^1 

. 73 



By Charles Packe, B.A. 
The Passage of the Port D'Oo axd Ascent of the Pic pes Posets loi 



By William Mathews, Jim., M.A. 

1. Explorations round the Foot of Monte Viso . 

2. Ascent of Monte Viso . 

. 129 




. 181 


1, Introductoky Remarks 

I. The Passaoe of the Col de la Tempe, fkom the Valley of La 


Val Louise to Le MoNfiTiER. By R. C. Nichols, F.S.A. . . . 183 
:i. The Val de St. Christophe and the Col de Sais. By the Rev. T. G. 

Bonney, M.A.,F.G.S ^^^ 

4. A Sketch of the Col de la Selle, from La Grave to St. Christophe. 

By F. E. Blackstone, B.C.L., F.R.G.S 215 

:,. Til R Ascent of Mont Pelvoux. By Edward Whymper . . . . 2'2.*J 

//] \ 




1. The HuNTiNfr Grounds of Victor Emmanuel. 

By F. F. Tuckett, 


•1. A NmiiT Bivouac on the Grivola. By F. F. Tuckett, F.R.G.S. 

;$. The Ascent of the Grivola. By John Ormsby .... 

4. The Alps of the Tarentaise. By W. Mathews, Jun., 3I.A. 

5. Two Ascents of the Grand Paradis. By .1. J. Cowell. F.R.G.S. 


A Visit to the Jokuls Glacier. By John Frederick Hardy, B.D. 

. 292 
. 318 
. 3 J9 

. 408 



1. Amount of Ozone at different Altitudes. By F. F. Tuckett, F.R.G.S. 445 

2. The Dirt-Bands of the Lower Grindelwald Glacier. By F. F. 

Tuckett, F.R.G.S 455 

i. Hypsometry AND the Aneroid By Rev. G. C. Hodgkinsou, M.A. . .463 
2. Contributions to Alpine Hypsometry. By F. F. Tuckett, F.R.G.S .484 


1. Introductory Remarks 503 

2. Table op Alpine Peaks By F. F. Tuckett, F.R.G.S .506 

3. Table op Alpine Passes. By F. F. Tuckett, F.R.G.S 528 

4. Table of Pyrenean Peaks and Passes. By Charles Paeke, Jun., B.A. 538 

, .! N 




1. The Glaciers of the Oberland to face page 3 

2. The Alps of Uri , 73 

3. The Pyrenees, South of Luchou „• 101 

4. Monte Viso and surrouuding District „ 129 

5. Sketch Map of Mont Pelvoux „ 181 

6. The Graian Alps „ 259 



1. The Eiger Joch from the Wengern Alp, from a photograph Frontispiece. 

2. The Schreckhorn from the Grindelwald Glacier, from a sketch by E. T. 

Coleman toface 4 

3. The Aletschhorn from the .^ggischhorn, from photographs . . toface 37 

4. Summit of the Thierberg 90 

5. The Triften Joch and the Rhone Glacier, from a photograph . . . .96 

6. The Port d'Oo, Pyrenees, from a sketch by C. Packe, . . . to face im 

7. The Pic de Sauvegarde and Port de Venasque, from a sketch by C. Packe 116 

8. The Maladetta from the Antenac, from a sketch by C. Paxike . . .122 

9. Monte Viso from the N., from Taylor and Nodier and original sketches 

toface 129 

10. Diagram of Monte Viso and adjoining Mountain Ridges, by W. Mathews, jun. 132 

11. Outline Sketch of the Viso from Turin, from a sketch by F. F. Tuckett . 148 

12. TheSummitof Monte Viso, from a sketch by W. Mathews, jun. ... .157 





















A Pinnacle Of Monte Viso. ft-ou. a Sketch by W. Mathews, juu. ... 167 
Col de Sais and Glacier de Condamine, from a sketch by R. C. Niciiols . m 
Pinnacles of Mont Pelvoux, from the Glacier Noir, from a sketch by R. C. 

. lys 


Glaciers of the Valley of Alefroide, from Taylor and Nodier . . . . IW 

La Berarde, from Taylor and Nodier ^'^•/'«<^<' ^''^^ 

The Mountains of St. Christophe, from a sketch by R«v. T. G. Bonuey . 203 
The Pic d' Alefroide {Pic Sans Xom), from the Col de Sais, from a sketch by 

Rev. T. G. Bonney 

Aiguille du Midi de la Grave, from a sketch by F. E. Blackstone . . 217 

Sketch-Map of Author's Route, by F. E. Blackstone 221 

Mont Pelvoux, from above La Bessie, from a sketch by E. Whyraper . . 223 

Outline by Elie de Beaumont ^^ 

Cascade near La Grave, from a sketch by E. Whymi)er .... 232 

Mont Pelvoux, from the Vallou d'Alfred, from a sketch by E. Whymper . 236 

Outline Sketch to show Author's route, by E. Whymper .... 247 

A Buttress of Mont Pelvoux, from a sketch by E. Whymper . ... 249 

The Grivola from Col D'Arbole, fi-om a sketch by F. F. Tuckctt . . 268 

The Grivola from below the Col de Nivolet, from a sketch by F. F. Tuckett 286 

Summit of the Grivola, from a sketch by F. F. Tuckett 309 

The Grivola from the South-west, from a sketch by F. F. Tuckett to face 318 

TheGrivolafiromtheEast, from a sketch by John Ormsby .... 323 

The Ruitor from Aosta, from a drawing by George Barnard ... 383 

The Grand I*aradis from the Cramont, from a sketch by J. J. Cowell . . 411 

^ i' 



YOL. n. 
















■^ \ 











Br THE Rev. Leslie Stephen, M.A. 

Each of the three best known glacier systems of the Alps 
is distinguished by characteristic beauties. The mighty 
dome of Mont Blanc, soaring high above the ranges of 
aiguilles, much as St. Paul's rises above the spires of the- 
city churches, is perhaps the noblest of single mountain 
masses. The intricate labyrinths of ice and snow that 
spread westwards from the Monte Eosa, amongst the high 
peaks of the Pennine range, form the greatest stretch 
of continuous glacier in the Alps, whilst the unrivalled 
obelisk of the Matterhorn rises like a monument from 
their centre. But neither Chamounix nor Zermatt can, in 
my opinion, show such a variety of the noblest scenery as 
the Bernese Oberland. The stupendous fortress of moun- 
tains whose battlements overhang in midair the villages of 
Lauterbrunnen and Grrindelwald ; the pasturages of the 
Scheideck and Wengern Alps ; the broad streams of ice, 
many miles in length, that pour down the gentler southern 
slopes towards the valley of the Ehone; and the seven 
great summits that overlook unnumbered hills and 
plains throughout the whole of Switzerland, compose a 
mass of incomparable beauty and grandeur. Four of 
these summits, the Jungfrau, the Monch, the Eiger, and 
the Wetterhorn, stand like watch-towers on the very edge 
of the cliffs. Of these the Jungfrau was first ascended by 

B 2 




some peasants in 1828 ; the Monch*, by Dr. Forges, of 
Vienna, in 1857; the Eiger, by an English gentleman in 
1858; and the Wetterhorn, by Mr. Wills in 1854. The 
three other summits stand in the very heaii of the snow- 
fields. Of these the Finsteraarhorn was first scaled by Herr 
Solger, in 1841 ; and the Aletschhorn, by Mr. Tuckett, in 
1859. The Schreckhorn still remained unconquered till 


The Schreckhorner form a ridge of rocky peaks, 
forking into two ridges about its centre, the ground- 
plan of which may thus be compared to the letter Y. 
The foot of this Y represents the northern extremity, 
and is formed by the massive Mettenberg, whose broad 
faces of cliff divide the two glaciers at Grrindelwald. 
Half-way along the stem rises the point called the Little 
Schreckhorn. The two chief summits rise close together 
at the point where the Y forks. The thicker of the two 
branches represents the black line of cliffs running down 
to the Abschwung ; the thinner represents the range of 
the Strahlhorner, crossed by the Strahleck pass close to 
its origin. Mr. Anderson, in the former volume of " Peaks 
and Passes," describes an attempt to ascend the Schreck- 
horn, made by him under most unfavourable circum- 
stances ; one of his guides, amongst other misfortunes, being 
floored by a falling stone, and he and his guides together 
nearly swept away by an avalanche. His courage, how- 
ever, did not meet with the reward it fully deserved, as 
bad weather made it impossible for him to attempt more 
than the Little Schreckhorn, the summit of which he 
succeeded in reaching. A more successful attack had 

* A Countess Dora d'Istria has published an account of an ascent of the 
Monch, previous to this. Though I should be sorry to be uncivil to a lady, 
I must confess that the account bears strong internal evidence of describing 
an ascent to a point which was not the top. Inquiries on the spot have 
confirmed the truth of this conjecture. 




















been made by MM. Desor and Escher von der Linth, in 
1842. Starting from the Strahleck, they had climbed, 
with considerable difficulty, to a ridge leading apparently 
to the summit of the Schreckhorn. After following this 
for some distance, they were brought to a stand-still by a 
sudden depression some ten or twelve feet in depth, which 
was succeeded by a very sharp arete of snow. Whilst they 
were hesitating what to do, one of the guides, in spite of a 
warning shriek from his companions, and without waiting 
for a rope, suddenly sprang down so as to alight astride of 
the ridge. They followed him more cautiously, and, ani- 
mated to the task by a full view of the summit, forced their 
way slowly along a very narrow and dangerous arete. They 
reached the top at last triumphantly, and, looking round 
at the view, discovered, to their no small disgust, that to 
the north of them was another summit. They had indeed 
proved, by a trigonometrical observation, that that on 
which they stood was the highest ; but, in spite of trigono- 
metry, the northern peak persisted in looking down on 
them. As it was cut off from them by a long and im- 
practicable arete some three hundred yards (in my opinion 
more) in length, they could do nothing but return, and 
obtain another trigonometrical observation. This time 
the northern peak came out twenty-seven metres (about 
eighty-eight feet) the higher. It was, moreover, to all 
appearance, the harder piece of work. As Ulrich Lauener 
(who, I must admit, is rather given to croaking) once said 
tp me, it was like the Matterhorn, big above and little 
below, and he would have nothing to do with it. I re- 
solved, however, to try to conquer this last stronghold of 
the Oberland mountains. 

Accordingly, on the night of the 13th August, 1861, I 
found myself the occupant of a small hole under a big 
rock near the northern foot of the Strahleck. Owing to 



bad diplomacy, I was encumbered with three guides, — 
Peter and Christian Michel, and Christian Kaufmann, — 
all of them good men, but one, if not two, too many. As 
the grey morning light gradually stole into our burrow, I 
woke up with a sense of lively impatience — not diminished, 
perhaps, by the fact that one side of me seemed to be 
permanently impressed with every knob in a singularly 
cross-grained bit of rock, and the other with every bone in 
Kaufmann's body. Swallowing a bit of bread, I declared 
myself ready. An early start is of course always desirable 
before a hard day's work, but it rises to be almost agree- 
able after a hard night's rest. This did not seem to be old 
Peter Michel's opinion. He is the very model of a short, 
thick, broad mountaineer, with the constitution of a piece 
of seasoned oak ; a placid, not to say stolid, temper ; and 
an illimitable appetite. He sat opposite me for some half- 
hour, calmly munching bread and cheese, and meat and 
butter, at four in the morning, on a frozen bit of turf, under 
a big stone, as if it were the most reasonable thing a man 
could do under the circumstances, and as though such 
things as the Schreckhorn and impatient tourists had no 
existence. A fortnight before, as I was told, he had calmly 
sat out all night, half-way up the Eiger, with a stream of 
freezing water trickling over him, accompanied by an un- 
lucky German, whose feet received frost-bites on that occa- 
sion, from which they were still in danger, while old Michel 
had not a chilblain. At last, however, about half-past four, 
we got deliberately under weigh. Our first two or three 
hours' work was easy enough. The two summits of the 
Schreckhorn form as it were the horns of a vast crescent 
of precipice, which runs round a secondary glacier, on the 
eastern bank of the Grrindelwald glacier. This glacier is 
skirted on the south by the ordinary Strahleck route, 
and is marked on the accompanying map. The cliffs above 



it are for the most part bare of snow, and scored by deep 
trenches or gullies, the paths of avalanches, and of the still 
more terrible showers of stones, which, in the later part of 
the day, may be seen every five minutes discharged down 
the flank of the mountain. I was very sanguine that we 
should reach the arete connecting the two peaks. I felt 
doubtful, however, whether we could pass along it to the 
summit, as it might be interrupted by some of those gaps 
which so nearly stopped Desor's party. Old Michel indeed 
had declared, on a reconnoitring expedition I had made 
with him the day before, that he believed, " steif undfest,'' 
that we could get up. But as we climbed the glacier my 
faith in Michel and Co. began to sink, not from any failing 
in their skill as guides, but from the enormous appetites 
which they still chose to exhibit. Every driblet of water 
seemed to be inseparably connected in their minds with a 
drop of brandy, and every flat stone suggested an open-air 
picnic. Perhaps my impatience rather exaggerated their 
delinquencies in this direction; but it was not till past 
seven, when we had deposited the heavy part of our 
baggage, and, to my delight, most of the provisions, on a 
ledge near the foot of the rocks, that they fairly woke up 
and settled to their work. From that time I had no more 
complaints to make. We soon got hard and steadily at 
work, climbing the rocks which form the southern bank 
of one of the deeply carved gullies of which I have spoken. 
It seemed clear to me that the summit of the Schreckhorn, 
which was invisible to us at present, was on the other side 
of this ravine, its northern bank being in fact formed by a 
huge buttress running straight down from the peak. This 
buttress was cut into steps, by cliffs so steep as to be 
perfectly impracticable ; in fact, I believe that in one place 
it absolutely overhung. It was therefore necessary to keep 
to the other side ; but I felt an unpleasant suspicion that 



the head of the ravine might correspond with an im- 
practicable gap in the arete. 

Meanwhile we had simply a steady piece of rock-climb- 
ing. Christian Michel, a first-rate cragsman, led the way. 
Kaufmann followed, and, as we clung to the crannies and 
ledges of the rock, relieved his mind by sundry sarcasms 
as to the length of arm and leg which enabled me to reach 
points of support without putting my limbs out of joint. 
The rocks were steep and slippery, and occasionally 
covered with a coat of ice. We were frequently flattened 
out against the rocks, like beasts of ill repute nailed to a 
barn, with fingers and toes inserted into four different 
cracks which had been obviously arranged without the 
slightest regard to the convenience of the human figure. 
Still our progress though slow was steady, and would have 
been agreeable if only our minds could have been at ease 
with regard to that detestable ravine. We could not obtain 
a glimpse of the final ridge, and we might be hopelessly 
stopped at the last step. Meanwhile, as we looked round, 
we could see the glacier basins gradually sinking, and the 
sharp pyramid of the Finsteraarhorn shooting upwards 
above them. Gradually, too, the distant ranges of Alps 
climbed higher and higher up the southern horizon. From 
Mont Blanc to Monte Kosa, and away to the distant Bernina, 
ridge beyond ridge rose into the sky, w^ith many a well- 
remembered old friend amongst them. In two or three 
hours' work we had risen high enough to look over the 
ridge connecting the two peaks, down the long reaches of 
the Aar glaciers. A few minutes afterwards we caught 
sight of a row of black dots creeping over the snows of the 
Strahleck. With a telescope I could just distinguish a 
friend whom I had met the day before at Grindelwald. A 
loud shout from us brought back a faint reply or echo. 
We were already high above the pass. Still, however. 


I I 



that last arete remained pertinaciously invisible. A few 
more steps, if steps is a word applicable to progression by 
hands as well as feet, placed us at last on the great ridge 
of the mountain, looking down upon the Lauteraar Sattel. 
But the ridge rose on our right hand into a kind of knob, 
which allowed only a few yards of it to be visible. Taking 
a drop of brandy all round, we turned to the assault, 
feeling that a few yards more would decide the question. 
On our right hand, the long slopes of snow ran down to- 
wards the Lauteraar Sattel, as straight as if the long fur- 
rows on their surface had been drawn by a ruler. They 
were in a most ticklish state. The snow seemed to be 
piled up like loose sand, at the highest angle of rest, and 
almost without cohesion. The fall of a pebble or a hand- 
ful of snow was sufficient to detach a layer, which slid 
smoothly down the long slopes with a long low hiss. 
Clinging, however, to the rocks which formed the crest of 
the ridge, we dug our feet as far as possible into the older 
snow beneath, and crept cautiously along. As soon as 
there was room on the arete, we took to the rocks again, 
and began, with breathless expectation, climbing the knob 
of which I have spoken. The top of the mountain could 
not remain much longer concealed. A few steps more, 
and it came full in view. The next step revealed to me 
not only the mountain top, but a lovely and almost level 
ridge which connected it with our standing-point. We 
had won the victory, and, with a sense of intense satisfac- 
tion, attacked the short ridge which still divided us from 
our object. It is melancholy to observe the shockingly 
bad state of repair of the higher peaks, and the present 
was no exception to the rule. Loose stones rattled down 
the mountain sides at every step, and the ridge itself 
might be compared to the ingenious contrivance which 
surmounts the walls of gaols with a nicely balanced pile of 




loose bricks, — supposing the interstices in this case to be 
filled with snow. We crept, however, cautiously along the 
parapet, glancing down the mighty clififs beneath us, and 
then, at two steps more, we proudly stepped (at 11.40) on 
to the little level platform which forms the " aller hochste 
Spitze " of the Schreckhorn. 

I need hardly remark that our first proceeding was to 
give a hearty cheer, which was faintly returned by the 
friends who were still watching us from the Strahleck. 
My next was to sit down, in the warm and perfectly calm 
summer air, to enjoy a pipe, and the beauties of nature, 
whilst my guides erected a cairn of stones round a large 
black flag which we had brought up to confute cavillers. 
Mountain tops are always more or less impressive in one 
way, — namely, from the giddy cliffs w^hich surround them. 
But the more distant prospects from them may be divided 
into two classes: those from the Wetterhorn, Jungfrau, or 
Monte Kosa, and other similar mountains, which include on 
one side the lowland countries, forming a contrast to the 
rough mountain ranges; and those from mountains standing, 
not on the edge, but in the very centre of the regions of frost 
and desolation. The Schreckhorn (like the Finsteraarhorn) 
is a grand example of this latter kind. Four great glaciers 
seem to radiate from its base. The great Oberland peaks — 
the Finsteraarhorn, Jungfrau, Monch, Eiger, and Wetter- 
horn — stand round in a grim circle, showing their bare 
faces of precipitous rock across the dreary wastes of snow. 
At your feet are the huge basins of snow from which the 
glaciers of Grindelwald draw the sujDplies that enable them 
to descend far into the regions of cultivated land, trickling 
down like great damp icicles, of insignificant mass com- 
pared with these mighty reservoirs. You are in the centre 
of a whole district of desolation, such as that to which I 
presume the hills of England would be reduced if it were 






not for that blessed Gulf Stream. After an hour's con- 
templation of the view, I added a few touches to our cairn, 
and then turned to the descent. It is a general opinion, 
with which I do not agree, that the descent of slippery or 
difficult rock is harder than the ascent. My guides, how- 
ever, seemed to be fully convinced of it ; or perhaps they 
merely wished to prove, in opposition to my sceptical re- 
marks, that there was some use in having three guides. 
Accordingly, whilst Christian Michel led the way, old Peter 
and Kaufmann persisted in planting themselves steadily 
in some safe nook, and then hauling at the rope round 
my waist. By a violent exertion and throwing all my 
weight on to the rope, I gradually got myself paid slowly 
out, and descended to the next ledge, feeling as if I should 
be impressed with a permanent groove to fix ropes to in 
future. The process was laborious, not to say painful, 
and I was sincerely glad when the idea dawned upon the 
good fellows that I might be trusted to use my limbs more 

I was once still more annoyed by an old guide on the 
Bietschhorn, who had solemnly informed me that his name 
was in The Book, i, e, Murray. Having done nothing all 
day to maintain his reputation, he seized a favourable oppor- 
tunity as we were descending a narrow arete of snow, and 
suddenly clutching my coat-tails, on pretence of steadying 
me, brought me with a jerk into a sitting position. My ur- 
gent remonstrances only produced bursts of patois, mixed 
with complacent chucklings, and I was forced to resign my- 
self to the fate of being pulled backwards, all in a heap, about 
every third step along the arete. The process gave the old 
gentleman such evident pleasure that I ceased to complain. 

On the present occasion my guides were far more rea- 
sonable, and I would never complain of a little extra 
caution. We w^ere soon going along steadily enough. 





though the slippery nature of the rocks, and the precau- 
tions necessary to avoid dislodging loose stones, made our 
progress rather slow. At length, however, with that in- 
stinct which good guides always show, and which amateurs 
are most deficient in, we came exactly to the point where 
we had left our knapsacks. I have often been so much 
puzzled by the extreme difference in the appearance of the 
same rocks when ascending or descending, that I never fail 
to remark the skill which practice gives the natives in hit- 
ting off a path which they have once taken. We were now 
standing close to the ravine I have mentioned. Suddenly 
I heard a low hiss close by me, and looking round saw a 
stream of snow shooting rapidly down the gully, like a 
long white serpent. It was the most insidious enemy of 
the mountaineer — an avalanche; not such as thunders 
down the cliifs of the Jungfrau, ready to break every bone 
in your body, but the calm malicious avalanche which would 
take you quietly off your legs, wrap you up in a sheet of 
snow, and bury you in a crevasse for a few hundred years, 
without making any noise about it. The stream was so 
narrow and well defined that I could easily have stepped 
across it ; still it was rather annoying, inasmuch as imme- 
diately below us was a broad fringe of snow ending in a 
bergschrund, the whole being in what travellers used to re- 
present as the normal condition of mountain snow — such 
that a stone, or even a hasty expression, rashly dropped, would 
probably start an avalanche. Christian Michel showed 
himself equal to the occasion. Choosing a deep trench in 
the snow — the channel of one of these avalanches — from 
which the upper layer of snow was cut away, he turned his 
face to the slope and dug his toes deeply into the firmer 
snow beneath. We followed, trying in every way to secure 
our hold of the treacherous footing. Every little bit of 
snow that we kicked aside started a young avalanche on its 


own account. By degrees, however, we reached the edge of 
a very broad and repulsive-looking bergschrund. Unfixing 
the rope, we gave Kaufmann one end, and sent him care- 
fully across a long and very shaky-looking bridge of snow. 
He got safely across, and we cautiously followed him, one 
by one. As the last man reached the other side, we 
felt that our dangers were over. It was now about five 

We agreed to descend by the Strahleck. Great delay 
w^as caused by our discovering that even on the nearly 
level surface there was a sheet of ice formed, which re- 
quired many a weary step to be cut. It was long before 
we could reach the rocks and take off the rope for a race 
home down the slopes of snow. 

As we reached our burrow we were gratified with one of 
the most glorious sights of the mountains. A huge cloud, 
which looked at least as lofty as the Eiger, rested with one 
extremity of its base on the Eiger and the other on the 
Mettenberg, shooting its white pinnacles high up into the 
sunshine above. Through the mighty arched gateway 
thus formed, we could see far over the successive ranges of 
inferior mountains, standing like flat shades one behind 
another. The lower slopes of the Mettenberg glowed with 
a deep blood-red, and the more distant hills passed through 
every shade of blue, purple, and rose-coloured hues, into the 
faint blue of the distant Jura, with one gleam of gi'een sky 
beyond. In the midst of the hills, the lake of Thun lay, 
shining like gold. A few peals of thunder echoed along 
the glacier valley, telling us of the storm that was raging 
over Grindelwald. 

It was half-past seven when we reached our lair. We 
consequently had to pass another night there ; a necessity 
which would have been easily avoided by a little more 
activity in the morning. With this exception, I had every 

V I 



reason to be satisfied with my guides, especially with 
Christian Michel, who is a first-rate man. 

Perhaps I may be allowed to add a note on the geography 
of the Oberland. There is, I suppose, no better known 
pass than the Strahleck, and yet it is laid down entirely 
wrong in every map that I have seen. The ridge joining 
the Finsteraarhorn and Schreckhorn has no existence, as I 
can testify after careful observations from the Finsteraar- 
horn, Schreckhorn, and Oberaarhorn. The spur of the 
Schreckhorn, called Strahlhorner, runs towards the Ober- 
aarhorn or nearly so, but does not join it Thus the great 
basin of neve under the Finsteraarhorn communicates 
with unbroken glacier, both with the Grrindelwald and Aar 
glaciers. The old Strahleck pass used (as I have been 
told by M. Anderegg) to lie across this basin.* It was 
changed for the route over the Strahlhorner, because the 
glacier became too much crevassed near the Oberaarhorn. 

* See map in this edition. 


7th of august, 1859. 

By the Rev. Leslie Stephen, M.A. 

On the 3rd of August, 1859, I was travelling on the 
Swiss railway, between Basle and Olten, with my friends 
Messrs. William and Greorge Mathews. As we shot out of 
the long tunnel above Olten and descended into the valley 
of the Aar, the glorious range of the Bernese Oberland 
rose majestically into sight, some fifty miles away. While 
telling over the names of our gigantic friends, our eyes 
were caught by the broad flat top of the Monch, which no 
Englishman had yet reached. It occurred to us that an 
attack upon this hoary pillar of the mid-aerial church 
would be a worthy commencement of our expedition, and it 
struck us at the same time that by ascending, as a first step, 
the ridge called by Mr. Bunbury* the Col de la Jungfrau, 
which connects the Monch with the Jungfrau, we should, so 
to speak, be killing two birds with one stone. Mr. Bunbury 
indeed states, that on looking down from this ridge, he and 
his guide had considered an ascent from the northern side 
to be quite impracticable; but as "impracticable" is 
generally used in the Alps to signify that an ascent has 
never been tried, we considered ourselves fully justified in 

* In the former volume of " Peaks, Passes, and Glaciers." 







attempting what, if successful, would be a first-rate and 
completely new pass. 

Accordingly, on the oth of August we assembled at the 
lower of the two little inns on the Wengern Alp. The 
Mathews were accompanied by two Chamounix men, Jean- 
Baptiste . Croz and Charlet, whilst I had secured the 
gigantic Ulrich Lauener, — not without some grumbling on 
his part at being joined with Chamounix guides. We now 
examined the work before us more closely. The Monch 
is connected by two snow-ridges, with the Jungfrau on the 
west and the Eiger on the east. From the first of these 
ridges descends the Guggi glacier, and from the second 
the Eiger glacier, both of them pouring their torrents 
into the gloomy Triimleten valley, the trench which also 
receives the sn©w avalanches of the Jungfrau. These 
two glaciers are separated by the huge northern buttress 
of the Monch, and which, I believe, is generally supposed 
by tourists to be perpendicular, but the long slopes of debris 
by which it is faced, prove the fallacy of this idea to an 
experienced eye, and it is in fact easy to ascend. Both 
glaciers are much crevassed; the Guggi, however, ex- 
pands into a kind of level plateau, about half-way up the 
mountain, connected by long and broken snow-slopes 
with the Col de la Jungfrau. 

The morning of the 6th having been gloomy, we spent 
the later part of the day in a reconnoitring expedition up 
to this plateau and a Kttle beyond it. The result of our 
observations was not encouraging. We mounted some way 
above the plateau on a great heap of debris that had been 
disgorged by a glacier above. The blue crevasses which 
were drawn across the protruding nose of ice showed that 
at any minute we might be surprised by the descent 
of new masses, which would convert us into debris our- 
selves. Even if we surmounted this danger in the early. 




morning, the steep slopes of neve above us, which occa- 
sionally bulged out into huge overhanging masses, looked 
far from promising. Ketreating to the buttress of the 
Monch, we turned our attention to the Eiger glacier. 
Though some difficulties were obviously to be encountered, 
its aspect was generally more auspicious, and we accordingly 
resolved to modify our plans by ascending the eastern 
instead of the western shoulder of the Monch. We hoped 
afterwards to attack the Monch, but in any case meant to 
descend to the Aletsch glacier on the other side. 

An additional result of our expedition had been to 
develope a decided rivalry between Lauener and the 
Chamounix men. We had already had one or two little 
races and disputations in consequence, and Lauener, if he 
could have spoken English, would have said that the 
Savoyards were " muffs." As, however, he could not speak 
a word of French, nor they of German, he was obliged to 
convey this sentiment in pantomime, which perhaps did 
not soften its vigour. I was accordingly prepared for a few 
disputes the next day, — an annoyance which generally 
attends a combination of Swiss and Chamounix guides. 

About 4 on the morning of the 7th of August we got 
off from the inn on the Wengern Alp, notwithstanding 
a few delays, and steered straight for the foot of the Eiger. 
In the early morning the rocks around the glacier and the 
lateral moraines were hard and slippery. Before long, 
however, we found ourselves well on the ice, near the cen- 
tral axis of the Eiger glacier, and looking up at the great 
terrace-shaped ice-masses, separated by deep crevasses, 
which rose threateningly over our heads, one above another, 
like the defences of some vast fortification. And here- 
began the first little dispute between Oberland and 
Chamounix. The Chamounix men proposed a direct assault 
on the network of crevasses above us. Lauener said that 






< t 

. I 

we ought to turn them by crossing to the south-west side, 
immediately below the Monch. My friends and their 
guides forming a majority, and seeming to have little re- 
spect for the arguments urged by the minority, we gave in 
and followed them, with many muttered remarks from 
Lauener. We soon found ourselves performing a series of 
manoeuvres like those required for the ascent of the Col du 
Geant. At times we were lying flat in little gutters on 
the faces of the seracs, worming ourselves along like boa- 
constrictors. At the next moment we were balancing our- 
selves on a knife-edge of ice between two crevasses, or 
plunging into the very bowels of the glacier, with a natural 
arch of ice meeting above our heads. I need not attempt 
to describe difficulties and dangers familiar to all ice- 
travellers. Like other such difficulties, they were very 
good fun whilst they lasted, but unfortunately they seemed 
inclined to last rather too long. Some of the deep 
crevasses apparently stretched almost from side to side of 
the glacier, rending its whole mass into distorted fragments. 
In attempting to find a way through them, we seemed 
to be going nearly as far backwards as forwards, the 
labyrinth in which we were involved being apparently as 
hopelessly intricate as it had been at first. Moreover, the 
sun had long touched the higher snow-fields, and was 
creeping down to us step by step. As soon as it reached 
the huge masses amongst which we were painfully toiling, 
some of them would begin to jump about like hailstones 
in a shower, and our position would become really dan- 
gerous. The Chamounix guides, in fact, declared it to be 
dangerous already, and warned us not to speak for fear of 
brinoing some of the nicely poised ice-masses down on our 
heads. On my translating this well-meant piece of advice 
to Lauener, he immediately selected the most dangerous- 
looking pinnacle in sight, and mounting to the top of it 




sent forth a series of screams, loud enough, I should have 
thought, to bring down the top of the Monch. They 
failed, however, to dislodge any seracs, and Lauener, going 
to the front, called to us to follow him. By this time we 
were all glad to follow any one who was confident enough 
to lead. Turning to our right, we crossed the glacier in 
a direction parallel to the deep crevasses, and therefore 
unobstructed by any serious obstacles, till we found our- 
selves immediately beneath the great cliffs of the Monch. 
Our prospects changed at once. A great fold in the 
glacier (visible in the illustration) produces a kind of 
diagonal pathway, stretching upwards from the point 
where we stood towards the rocks of the Eiger ; — not 
that it was exactly a carriage-road — but along the line 
which divides two different systems of crevasse, the glacier 
seemed to have been crushed into smaller fragments, 
producing, as it were, a kind of incipient macadamisation. 
The masses, instead of being divided by long regular 
trenches, were crumbled and jammed together so as to 
form a road, easy and pleasant enough by comparison with 
our former difficulties. Pressing rapidly up this rough 
path, we soon found ourselves in the very heart of the 
glacier, with a broken wilderness of ice on every side. 
We were in one of the grandest positions I have ever seen 
for observing the wonders of the ice-world; but those 
wonders were not all of an encouraging nature. For, 
looking up to the snow-fields now close above us, an 
obstacle appeared which made us think that all our pre- 
vious labours had been in vain. From side to side of the 
glacier a vast chevaux de /rise of blue ice-pinnacles 
struck up through the white layers of neve formed by the 
first plunge of the glacier down its waterfall of ice. Some 
of them rose in fantastic shapes, — huge blocks balanced on 
narrow footstalks, and only waiting for the first touch of 

C 2 






the sun to fall in ruins down the slope below. Others 
rose like church spires, or like square towers, defended by 
trenches of unfathomable depth. Once beyond this bar- 
rier, we should be safe upon the highest plateau of the 
glacier at the foot of the last snow-slope. But it was 
obviously necessary to turn them ; it would be impossible 
to force a passage through them. One plan was to climb 
the lower rocks of the Eiger ; but, after a moment's hesita- 
tion, we fortunately followed Lauener towards the other 
side of the glacier, where a small gap, between the seracs 
and the lower slopes of the Monch, seemed to be the 
entrance to a ravine that might lead us upwards. Such 
it turned out to be. Instead of the rough footing to 
which we had hitherto been unwillingly restricted, we 
found ourselves ascending a narrow gorge, with the giant 
cliffs of the Monch on our right, and the toppling ice- 
pinnacles on our left. A beautifully even surface of snow, 
scarcely marked by a single crevasse, lay beneath our feet. 
We pressed rapidly up this strange little pathway, as it 
wound steeply upwards between the rocks and the ice, 
expecting at every moment to see it thin out, or break off 
at some impassable crevasse. It was, I presume, formed 
by the sliding of avalanches from the slopes of the Monch. 
At any rate, to our delight it led us gradually round the 
barrier of seracs, till in a few minutes we found ourselves 
on the highest plateau of the glacier, the crevasses fairly 
beaten, and a level plain of snow stretching from our feet 
to the last snow-slope. 

We were now standing on the edge of a small level 
plateau. (It is not seen in the illustration, but lies be- 
tween the highest seracs marked there and the final snow- 
slope.) One, and only one, gigantic crevasse of really 
surpassing beauty stretched right across it. This was, 
we guessed, some three hundred feet deep, and its sides 

passed gradually into the lovely blues and greens of semi- 
transparent ice, whilst long rows and clusters of huge 
icicles imitated (as Lauener remarked) the carvings and 
ecclesiastical fixings of some great cathedral. The oppo- 
site side of the plain was bounded by a great snow-ridge, 
which swept round it in a long semicircular curve from 
the Monch to the Eiger. This ridge, in fact, forms the 
connecting isthmus by which the great promontory of the 
Eiger is joined to its brethren of the Oberland. Close to 
the Monch the slopes (as shown in the illustration) are of 
great height and steepness, whilst, owing to the gradual 
rise of the snow-fields and the sinking of the ridge, they 
become very insignificant at the end next to the Eiger. 
A reference to the map will explain the geography of our 
position. The pass which we were attempting would 
naturally lie over the shoulder, where the connecting 
isthmus I have mentioned articulates with the lower 
ridges of the Monch. Lauener had, in fact, reached this 
exact point from the other side. And we knew that, once 
there, we should be on the edge of a nearly level basin of 
snow, which stretches across the Monch Joch, or ridge con- 
necting the Monch with the Walcherenhorner. This basin 
is in fact the common source of the Aletsch and Viescher 
crlaciers, and the mound of the Monch Joch which divides 
them is very slightly defined across the undulating beds 
of neve. From this basin, however, the Viescher glacier 
sinks very rapidly, and consequently the ridge between 
the Monch and Eiger, which rises above it in bare rock 
cliffs, is much loftier near the Eiger than near the Monch 
on its south-eastern side,— the exact opposite of its form 

* The best known Viescher glacier is, of course, that which descends from' 
the Oberaarjoch towards Viesch. The glacier mentioned in the text is the 
great tributary of the lower Grindelwald glacier, caUed " Viescher" glacier 
in the Carte Dufour. 



on the north-western side, as already mentioned. Hence, 
to reach our pass, we had the choice — either of at once 
attacking the long steep slopes which led directly to the 
desired point on the shoulder of the Monch, or of first 
climbing the gentle slopes near the Eiger, and then forcing 
our way along the back-bone of the ridge. We resolved to 
try the last plan first. 

Accordingly, after a hasty breakfast at 9.30, we started 
across our little snow-plain and commenced the ascent. 
After a short climb of no great difficulty, merely pausing 
to chip a few steps out of the hard crust of snow, we suc- 
cessively stepped safely on to the top of the ridge. As 
each of my predecessors did so, I observed that he first 
looked along the arete, then down the cliffs before him, 
and then turned with a very blank expression of face to 
his neighbour. From our feet the bare cliffs sank down, 
covered with loose rocks, but too steep to hold more than 
patches of snow, and presenting right dangerous climbing 
for many hundred feet towards the Grindelwald glaciers. 
The arete offered a prospect not much better : a long 
ridge of snow, sharp as the blade of a knife, was playfully 
alternated with great rocky teeth, striking up through 
their icy covering like the edge of a saw. We held 
a council standing, and considered the following pro- 
positions : — First, Lauener coolly proposed, and nobody 
seconded, a descent of the precipices towards Grindelwald. 
This proposition produced a subdued shudder from the 
travellers and a volley of unreportable language from the 
Chamounix guides. It was liable, amongst other things, to 
the trifling objection that it would take us just the way we 
did not want to go. The Chamounix men now proposed 
that we shovdd follow the arete. This was disposed of by 
Lauener's objection that it would take at least six hours. 
We should have had to cut steps down the slope and up 



again round each of the rocky teeth I have mentioned ; 
and I believe that this calculation of time was below the 
mark. Finally, we unanimously resolved upon the only 
course open to us, to descend once more into our little 
valley, and thence to cut our way straight up the long 
slopes to the shoulder of the Monch. 

Considerably disappointed at this unexpected check, we 
retired to the foot of the slopes, feeling that we had no 
time to lose, but still hoping that a couple of hours more 
might see us at the top of the pass. It was just 11 as 
we crossed a small bergschrund and began the ascent. 
Lauener led the way to cut the steps, followed by the two 
other guides, who deepened and polished them up. Just 
as we started, I remarked a kind of bright track drawn 
down the ice in front of us, apparently by the frozen 
remains of some small rivulet which had been trickling 
down it. I guessed it would take some fifty steps and 
half an hour's work to reach it. We cut about fifty steps, 
however, in the first half-hour, and were not a quarter of 
the way to my mark ; and as even when there we should not 
be half-way to the top, matters began to look serious. 
The ice was very hard, and it was necessary, as Lauener 
observed, to cut steps in it as big as soup-tureens, for the 
result of a slip would in all probability have been that 
the rest of our lives would have been spent in sliding 
down a snow-slope, and that that employment would not 
have lasted long enough to become at all monotonous. 
Time slipped by, and I gradually became weary of a sound 
to which at first I always listen with pleasure, — the chip- 
ping of the axe, and the hiss of the fragments as they skip 
down the long incline below us. Moreover, the sun was 
very hot, and reflected with oppressive power from the bright 
and polished surface of the ice. I could see that a certain 
flask was circulating with great steadiness amongst the 



guides, and the work of cutting the steps seemed to be 
extremely severe. I was counting the 250th step, when 
we at last reached the little line I had been so long watch- 
ing, and it even then required a glance back at the long 
line of steps behind to convince me that we had in fact 
made any progress. The action of resting one's whole 
weight on one leg for about a minute, and then slowly 
transferring it to the other, becomes wearisome when pro- 
tracted for hours. Still the excitement and interest made 
the time pass quickly. I was in constant suspense lest 
Lauener should propose a retreat, which would have been 
annoying, and listened with some amusement to the low 
moanings of little Charlet, who was apparently bewailing 
his position to Croz, and being heartlessly chaffed in 
return. One or two measurements with a clinometer of 
Mathews' gave inclinations of 51° or 52°, and the slope 
was perhaps occasionally a little more. 

At last, as I was counting the 580th step, we reached a 
little patch of rock (visible in the illustration), and felt 
ourselves once more on solid ground with no small satis- 
faction. Not that the ground was specially solid. It was 
a small crumbling patch of rock, and every stone we dis- 
lodged went bounding rapidly down the side of the slope, 
diminishing in apparent size till it disappeared in the 
bergschrund, hundreds of feet below. However, each of 
us managed to find some nook in which he could stow 
himself away, whilst the Chamounix men took their turn 
in front, and cut steps straight upwards to the top of the 
slope. By this means they kept along a kind of rocky 
rib, of which our patch was the lowest point, and we thus 
could occasionally get a footstep on rock instead of ice. 
Once on the top of the slope, we could see no obstacle 
intervening between us and the point over which our pass 
must lie. 



Meanwhile we meditated on our position. It was 
already 4 o'clock. After twelve hours' unceasing labour 
we were still a long way on the wrong side of the pass. 
We were clinging to a ledge in the mighty snow- wall 
which sank sheer down below us and rose steeply above 
our heads. Beneath our feet the whole plain of Switzer- 
land lay with a faint purple haze drawn over it like a 
veil, a few green sparkles just pointing out the lake of 
Thun. Nearer, and apparently almost immediately below 
Tis, lay the Wengern Alp, and the little inn we had left 
twelve hours before, whilst we could just see the back of 
the labyrinth of crevasses where we had wandered so long. 
Through a telescope I could even distinguish people stand- 
ing about the inn, who no doubt were contemplating our 
motions. Meanwhile the Chamounix guides had cut a 
staircase up the slope, and we prepared to follow. It was 
harder work than before, for the whole slope was now 
covered with a kind of granular snow, and resembled a huge 
pile of hailstones. The hailstones poured into every foot- 
step as it was cut, and had to be cleared out with hands and 
feet before we could get even a slippery foot-hold. As 
we crept cautiously up this treacherous staircase, I could 
not help reflecting on the lively bounds with which the 
stones and fragments of ice had gone spinning from our 
last halting-place down to the yawning bergschrund 
below. We succeeded, however, in avoiding their ex- 
ample, and a staircase of about one hundred steps brought 
us to the top of the ridge, but at a point still at some dis- 
tance from the pass. It was necessary to turn along the 
arete towards the Monch. We were preparing to do this 
by keeping on the snow-ridge, when Lauener, jumping 
down about six feet on the side opposite to that by which 
we had ascended, lighted upon a little ledge of rock and 
called to us to follow. He assured us that it was granite. 





and that therefore there was no danger of slipping. It 
was caused by the sun having melted the snow on the 
southern side of the ridge, so that it no longer quite 
covered the inclined plane of rock upon which it rested. 
It was narrow and treacherous enough in appearance at first 
— soon, however, it grew broader, and, compared with our 
ice-climb, afforded capital footing. The precipice beneath 
us thinned out as the Viescher glacier rose towards our pass, 
and at last we found ourselves at the edge of a little 
mound of snow, through which a few plunging steps 
brought us, just at 6 o'clock, to the long-desired shoulder 
of the Monch. 

I cannot describe the pleasure with which we stepped 
at last on to the little saddle of snow, and felt that we had 
won the victor}^ We had made a pass equal in beauty 
and difficulty to any first-rate pass in the Alps, — I should 
rather say to any pass and a half. For, whereas most such 
passes can show but two fine views, here we have three. 
From the time of our reaching the summit of the ridge we 
had been enveloped in a light mist. Shortly after we had 
gained the col, this mist suddenly drew up like a curtain ; 
and as mountain after mountain came out in every di- 
rection from a point of view quite new to me, I felt per- 
fectly bewildered. We were on the edge of three great 
basins. Behind us the plain of Switzerland stretched 
away to the Jura. On our left a huge amphitheatre of 
glacier sank down, marked in long concentric curves by 
tier after tier of crevasses to the level of the Grindelwald 
glacier. Beyond rose the sheer cliffs of the Wetterhorn, 
and further back from the plain the black cluster of rocks 
of the Schreckhomer. This view is invisible from the Col 
de la Jungfrau, and is so eminently beautiful that I should 
recommend visitors from the -^ggisch-horn to prefer this 
col to the other. It is as easily reached from the southern 

side, and is alone worth the trouble, if it be not profane to 
speak of the trouble of such a walk. But the finest part of 
the view remains. We were standing at the edge of a great 
basin of snow. From its further side the great Aletsch 
glacier stretched away from our feet like the reach of 
some gigantic river frozen over, and covered from side to 
side with a level sheet of pure white snow, sweeping gra- 
dually away in one grand curve till it was lost to sight in 
the distance. Beyond it rose the Monte Leone and the 
ranges that look down on Italy. On each side rose some 
of the noblest mountains in Switzerland, — the Jungfrau, 
Monch, Aletschhorn, and the long jagged range of the 
Viescherhorner, with the needle-point of the Finsteraarhorn 
overlooking them. So noble and varied a sweep of gla- 
cier is visible nowhere else in the Alps. 

We had a little discussion during our halt as to the 
name which we should give as first discoverers. One of 
the party, with a glance down the long snow-slope, sug- 
gested Teufels Joch as an appropriate name. Lauener, 
with more piety but less point, proposed Engels Joch, in 
gratitude to the good angels who had brought us up. The 
name, however, clearly, ought to be Eiger Joch. The 
ridge connecting the Monch to the Jungfrau is known as 
the Jungfrau Joch, — that between the Monch and the 
Walcherenhorner has been christened Monch Joch, pro- 
bably for the sake of euphony. It is in analogy with 
these names, and suggests also, that, as our pass was 
ascended from the Eiger glacier, it should be called Eiger 

I will confess, however, that my first inquiry on the top 
of a new pass is neither what is there to see, nor what is 
the pass to be called, but — what is there to eat ? Of the 
two requisites for a satisfactory meal, one, viz. the pro- 
visions, was abundantly present. I fancied too, at first. 



that my appetite would do its part; but on trying to 
swallow some meat, I found that our long fast since the 
last meal, combined with the baking we had undergone, 
had so parched my mouth that the effort was useless. 
My thoughts turned to a refreshing cup of tea and a bed 
at the ^ggisch-hom. But, alas ! the inn was seven hours 
off: it was 6 p.m., and the sun near setting. Lauener 
mentioned certain ivolldecken and some coffee, which he 
believed to be at the Faulberg ; and the Faulberg, though 
we knew it to be one of those caves from which the whole 
of one side and the roof have been removed, immediately 
seemed to us to be the pleasantest hotel in Switzerland. 
We started off with enthusiasm to g-ain it. Passing 
rapidly round the great snow-basin between the Monch 
and the Trugberg, we came to a place where the whole 
breadth of the glacier seems to tumble in, — a broad 
curve over a kind of weir. At foot of the fall, which is 
perhaps some fifty feet high, is a bergschrund. Lauener, 
planting his feet in the snow above, prepared to lower 
each of us by the rope. Suddenly Gr. Mathews lost his 
footing, shot down the slope like a flash of lightning, and 
disappeared over the edge of the bergschrund. To our 
great relief, we immediately heard him call out " all right," 
and the next moment he appeared full of snow, but 
otherwise none the worse for his involuntary glissade. 
We followed with the help of the rope, and started down 
the glacier once more. We were scarcely off when the 
broad reach before us turned first to a glorious rose colour, 
and then faded to a livid hue as the light crept up 
the sides of the mountains. Soon they too turned pale ; 
the glow lingered a little on the loftiest peaks, then faded, 
too, and left us to the light of the moon, which was still 
clear enough to guide us. 

Lauener took this opportunity of remarking that he had 



been very unwell for three days before, and was conse- 
quently rather tired. He added presently that he could 
not see, and did not in the least know where he was going. 
I do not implicitly believe either of these statements, 
which struck me as being rather ill-timed. However, we 
marched steadily forwards in a long straggling line over 
the beautifully even surface of the glacier, already crisp 
with the evening frost, anxiously watching the sinking 
moon, and calculating whether her light would enable us 
to reach the Faulberg. 

We were making good progress, and the hospitable 
Faulberg was coming almost into sight, when we reached 
the point where the glacier curls over for a steep descent, 
just above the confluence of the glaciers from the Lotsch- 
sattel and Grriinhomliicke. Here a few concealed crevasses, 
causing the partial disappearance of some of our party, 
made a resort to the rope necessary. Fastening our- 
selves together we again pressed on as fast as we could. 
But the crevasses grew more numerous and broader, and 
the surface of the ice more steeply inclined. In the faint 
moonlight we could hardly tell what we were treading upon, 
— treacherous snow-bridges or slippery slides of ice. A 
stumble or two nearly brought us all in a heap together. 
Moreover, the Aletschhorn had chosen to shove its head up 
just in the way of the moon, and at last, as we were all getting 
rather puzzled how to proceed, the moon suddenly dipped 
behind it, the great shadow of the mountain shot out over 
us, and we were left all alone in the dark. Looking hastily 
round in the faint twilight, we could just make out a gi*eat 
mass of rock on our right hand. This forms part of the 
great promontory called the Kranzberg, which divides the 
two main branches of the Aletsch glacier. We made for it 
at once, found no crevasses to stop us, and stepped once 
more off the ice on to dry land. We unanimously resolved 



to stay where we were till daylight should appear. We 
unfastened the ropes, took a glass of wine all round, and 
determined to make ourselves comfortable. I accomplished 
this desirable object as follows : — Having drunk my wine, 
and made a perfectly futile attempt to swallow a bit of 
bread, I put on a pair of dry stockings which I had in my 
pocket over my wet ones, stuck my feet into a knapsack, 
and sat down on some sharp stones under a big rock. My 
companions most obligingly sat dowTi on each side of me, 
which tended materially to keep off the cold night wind, 
and one of them shared my knapsack. My seat may very 
easily be imitated by any one who will take the trouble to 
fill one of the gutters by the side of a paved street 
with a heap of granite stones prepared for macadamising a 
road. If he will sit down there for a frosty night, and in- 
duce a couple of friends to sit with him, he will doubt- 
less learn to sympathise with us. Lauener carefully 
warned us not to go to sleep, and I think I may say we 
fulfilled our promise of obeying his injunctions, with the 
exception of a doze or two towards morning. Lauener 
came out very strong. His good temper and fun seemed 
to rise with the occasion ; and after telling us a variety of 
anecdotes, beginning with chamois-hunting and ending (of 
all things in the world) with examinations, — for it seems 
that Swiss guides share, with under-graduates, this particu- 
lar form of misery,— he retired to the nook which the 
Chamounix guides had selected, and, to the best of my 
belief, passed the rest of the night in chaffing them. 

There is, of course, something disagreeable in passing a 
night "squirming" (to use an Americanism) on a heap of 
stones, and making fruitless endeavours to arrange their 
sharp corners into a soft surface to sit upon, by a series of 
scientific wriggles. I fully expected to get up in the 
morning stuck all over with pebbles, like a large pat of 



butter dropped into a sugar basin. In other respects, I 
believe I really enjoyed the night. The cold was not 
intense, and in fact I rarely felt it at all. Partly the 
excitement, and partly the beauty of the perfectly still and 
silent night, prevented its seeming long. The huge snow- 
covered mountains that glimmered faintly through the 
darkness, the long glorious glacier, half seen as it swept 
away from our feet, and the perfect stillness of the scene, 
were very striking. We felt that our little party was in 
absolute solitude in the very centre of the greatest waste 
of ice and bare rock in the Alps. I will not deny that 
towards morning I got a little chilly, not to say sulky. 
G-radually the mountain forms became more distinct. The 
outlines of rock and snow showed themselves more plainly, 
and I was quite surprised, on looking at my watch for the 
first time, to find that it was half-past two, and to see 
Lauener coming to tell us it was time to start. 

We jumped up, shook ourselves, struggled into our 
frozen boots, and made a futile attempt at breakfast. The 
dangers of the darkness had disappeared ; but the pleasure 
and excitement had gone too, and it was a right dreary 
walk that morning to the ^ggisch-horn. The Aletsch 
glacier is intersected by a number of little crevasses, just 
too broad to step, and wide enough to tire weary men. 
As we walked on down its broad monotonous surface, I was 
surprised to find how extremely ugly everything looked. It 
was a beautiful day, and before us, as we approached the 
Marjelen See, rose one of the loveliest of Alpine views, — 
the Matterhorn flanked by the noble pyramids of the 
Mischabel and Weisshorn. I looked at it with utter 
indifference, and thought what I should order for break- 
fast. Bodily fatigue and appreciation of natural scenery 
are simply incompatible. We somehow contrived to split 
into three parties, and the rapidity with which we lost 



sight of each other was a curious proof of the vast size of 
the glacier. A party of our friends passed us on their 
way from the ^ggisch-horn to the Col de la Jungfrau, but 
we failed to see them. The utter insignificance of a 
human figure on these wastes of ice is one of the first 
things by which we learn to appreciate their vast size. 

Lauener and I found our way to some chalets, where 
a draught of warm milk was truly refreshing. I need 
hardly say that after it we managed to lose our way over 
the abominable slopes of the iEggisch-horn. Shoulder 
after shoulder of that dreary mountain came out in endless 
succession, and I was glad enough to see the friendly little 
white house a little before 9 o'clock, and to rejoin my 
friends over a luxurious breakfast provided by its admi- 
rable landlord. 

I have only to add that the height of the pass we thus 
made is, according to the Swiss survey, 12,290 feet. 
There are two over the same chain which deserve the 
attention of Alpine travellers. One is described by Pro- 
fessor Tyndall under the name of Lauwinen Thor, in 
« Vacation Tourists," and it must be a very noble pass. 
The other is the Col de la Jungfrau, which has not yet 
been crossed, though I hope at some future time to see 
it added to the list of the vanquished. 


By F. F. Tuckett, F.R.G.S. 

The year 1859 will long be remembered by mountaineers 
as one of the finest which has for some time favoured their 
explorations, forming, in this respect, a marked contrast to 
its successor. From the commencement of July till towards 
the end of September, an almost uninterrupted succession 
of brilliant days and cloudless skies offered the greatest in- 
ducements and facilities to the whole tribe of climbers, 
and many a peak, pass, and glacier, which had never felt 
the foot of man, then, for the first time, acknowledged his 

So uniformly fine was the weather, that one began at 
length almost to long for a cloudy day, by way of variety, 
whilst, from the incessant melting action of the sun, the 
mountains became rapidly so denuded of snow as to be 
quite marred in their beauty, and present a grim and un- 
couth appearance. 

Indeed it may well be questioned whether, on the whole, 
variable weather be not the most conducive to the full 
enjoyment of a mountain district. Disappointing as it is 
at the moment to have some cherished scheme interfered 
with, — to wake on the morning of a day chosen for the 
attack and discomfiture of some mountain giant, and to 
listen instead to the plashing rain-drops, or to watch the 
thickly-falling snow-flakes, — there are, on the other hand, 
many compensating advantages. Not to dwell on the 






picturesque side of the question, — the marvellous effects of 
light and cloud, and the charm of variety and surprise, as 
one point after another is unveiled, and the rolling mists 
wreathe themselves into a thousand fantastic forms, — an 
occasional wet day is often practically found to be a real, 
though perhaps at the time an unwelcome, boon. 

When once the mountain spell has done its work upon 
a man, the climbing rage — ^' der reiz,^^ as even the cautious 
Germans phrase it — so takes possession of him that it is 
diflBcult to restrain within reasonable limits the ardent de- 
sire to be up and doing, and, in the exaltation of the mind, 
the claims of the body would run no small risk of going 
imheeded, did not the much-abused bad weather come to 
the rescue. 

What Goethe says becomes sooner or later true of 
mountaineering, as of art or science : — 

" Vergebens werden nngebundene Geister, 
Nach der Vollendung reiner Hohe streben. 
In der Beschrankung zeigt sich erst der Meister ; 
Und das Gesetz nur kann uns Freiheit geben." 

" To mount aloft to heights serene 
In vain uncurbed spirits try, 
In self-restraint the master's seen ; 
And law alone can give us liberty." 

Mountains, like other good things, require a digestive 
process ; and one can't go on swallowing them at the rate 
of two or three a week, with a liberal allowance of cols by 
way of seasoning, without at length becoming aware of a 
dulling influence upon body and mind, which renders the 
former more susceptible to fatigue, and the latter less alive 
to the charms of scenery. 

A wet day, in short, like a full stop in a paragraph, gives 
time for breathing and reflection, and enables one to start 
again with renewed vigour. The botanist has an oppor- 
tunity of drying and arranging his specimens, — making 

I 't 


hay, as some may perhaps wickedly insinuate, even when 
the sun shines not ; the geologist's bulging pockets stand a 
chance of being relieved of their angular contents ; the 
meteorologist finds time to reduce or verify his observa- 
tions; sketches are touched up, home letters written, 
novel and remarkable tailoring feats accomplished, the 
trusty boots cobbled and re-nailed for the nth. time ; and 
the lost day proves, in fact, to be a great gain in many 

It is a very generally entertained opinion that the 
months of August and September are those best adapted for 
the grandes courses which have so multiplied of late years. 
In this there is much truth, though it depends partly, 
I believe, on custom, and also on the fact that those months 
being generally set apart for the holidays, a greater number 
of adventurous spirits are abroad at that particular time. 
Without going further into the question here, suffice it to 
say that, having for several years been in the habit of 
making pedestrian tours in Switzerland, and generally 
during June and July, I have never been prevented, 
except from temporary causes, from crossing the loftiest 
cols even in the early part of the former month, and have 
only occasionally found the higher summits inaccessible, 
either from the backwardness of the season, or from some 
other exceptional cause. Let none, therefore, whose en- 
gagements prevent their leaving home except at this time, 
be discouraged by a fear that they will be unable to do 
good mountaineering work. My experience goes to prove 
the contrary ; whilst an early start affords other, and by no 
means trifling, advantages, such as the choice of guides, 
longer daylight, better accommodation at inns, a richer 
flora, grander expanses of snow, well-bridged crevasses and 
unopened " bergschrunds." 

Between 3 and 4 a.m., on the 15th June, 1859, ac- 

D 2 



companied by Victor Tairraz of Chamounix, and Peter 
Bohren of Grindelwald, I quitted Yiesch for the Hotel de la 
Jungfrau, 7153 feet above the sea, and now so well known 
to tourists that it is hardly necessary to say one word in its 
praise. M. Alexandre Wellig, and his brother Franz, are 
model hosts, and the house is one of the best specimens 
of a mountain inn to be met with in Switzerland. 
Many a day have I spent beneath its hospitable roof, and, 
whether alone or with a merry party round the blazing 
fire, in rain or sunshine, I have ever found it '' valde 
bene in omnibus,''' I will only add, that on the present 
occasion the house had been most kindly opened before 
the usual time entirely for my benefit ; and though, on 
bidding him good-bye, M. Wellig insisted that I had 
not " t'ecK," but only " existe,''^ I can bear willing 
testimony to the resources of the cuisine and the excel- 
lence of the cave. 

As we zigzagged up through the noble pine-woods which 
clothe the lower slopes, the sun rose in a cloudless sky, 
lighting up the deep red trunks till they glowed again, 
and giving promise of a brilliant day, which was in no way 
belied. Halting at the hotel for breakfast, we proceeded 
at 6.35 to ascend the ^ggischhorn. This is usually an 
easy walk of an hour and a half, but the snow now lay 
low, so that our progress was delayed, and it w^as not till 
8.30 that we gained the summit. The grand panorama 
was displayed in perfection, every peak standing out 
with the most brilliant clearness ; and many very tedious 
pages might be filled with an enumeration of the moun- 
tain legion, that in serried ranks barred the horizon 
in every direction. Topography is dull, however, except 
to the initiated ; and as those already familiar with the 
district require no explanation, and those unacquainted 
with it would not, I fear, be much the wiser for one, I will 


















confine myself simply to such particulars as are necessary 
to indicate the position of the Aletschhorn. 

Standing, then, on the summit of the ^ggischhorn, the 
vast mass of the Aletsch glacier is seen in all its vast extent 
from its central source in the snows of the Jungfrau, 
Monch, and Viescherhorner, to its termination between 
the Lusgen and Rieder Alps, a distance of about fifteen 
miles. Its coiu'se resembles a boomerang in shape, the 
^ggischhorn and Marjelen See being situated at the 
centre of the convex side, just where its downward direction 
changes from nearly south to south-west. On the opposite 
side of the glacier, to the north-west of the spectator, and 
at the head of the Aren or Mittler- Aletsch glacier, which 
here enters the main trunk stream at right-angles, rises the 
Aletschhorn, flanked by the subordinate summits of the 
Dreieckhorner, Olmenhorn, and others. On the north it is 
bounded by a great arm or feeder of the Aletsch glacier, 
which, descending from the Lotschsattel, and fed by the 
neves of the Mittaghorn, Ebnefluh, and Grletscherhorn, 
unites with the central stream from the Jungfrau and 
Monch at a point nearly opposite the Faulberg. Its po- 
sition is thus extremely central with reference to the great 
massif of the Oberland mountains, and on this account I 
think it is even superior as a point of view to the Finster- 
aarhorn, which overtops it very slightly.* 

I had come to this place with no very definite idea of 
what excursions I should make ; but before quitting the 

* The following are the heights of those peaks of the Oberland group 
which exceed 13,000 English feet in height, as given on the Federal map, or 
in the works of Durheim and Ziegler : — 



. 14,026 





Aletschhorn . 

. 13,803 






. 13,671 





Monch . 

. 13,438 


Ebnefluh . 



Schreckhom . 

. 13,394 





summit of the ^ggischhorn, my mind was quite made up 
that, weather permitting, the Aletschhorn should be the 
first point of attack. I threw out a hint to Victor, who at 
first shook his head, and said there was too much snow, 
but gradually caught my enthusiasm, and ended by 
pronouncing it ^^ bonne idee,^'' in which Peter Bohren, 
always ready for anything in the shape of scrambling or 
adventure, strongly coincided. And so it gradually 
became a settled thing that we should at least make the 

The beautiful Marjelen See at our feet was almost 
entirely frozen over and snow-clad, with the exception of 
a canal of blue water on the further side, in which floated 
some miniature bergs. Here, on our first arrival at the 
summit of the Horn, we were witnesses of a very pretty 
and interesting spectacle. Two chamois, which were grazing 
on the rocky slopes beneath us, took fright on discovering 
our presence, and, descending rapidly to the margin of the 
lake, started off across its frozen surface towards the base 
of the Strahlhorner. Through my telescope I could watch 
€very movement of the graceful creatures, who were 
evidently in no small perplexity. The ice proved thin 
and treacherous, and every now and then the leader 
would pause in great embarrassment, look around, then 
strike off again more to the left or right, once more to be 
brought to a stand after fresh flounderings and lettings in. 
They seemed to be ignorant of the canal of open water, 
which might be some thirty feet in width, completely 
cutting them off from the shore ; and I watched with great 
curiosity to see what they would do on discovering the 
trap into which they had fallen. The doubt was soon 
solved. The leader, on reaching the water's edge, trotted 
along it for some distance till he came opposite one of the 
floating bergs of small size, when he made a magnificent 

leap, landing safely on the little islet of ice, which spun 
round with the impetus, and gained the land in a second 
bound. His companion, a female, following his example, 
reached the berg in safety, but failed in the second leap, 
and fell into the water. She soon, however, scrambled 
out, and the two made off together up the steep mountain- 
side at a pace that excited my admiration and envy. 

After spending two delightful hours at this charming 
spot I read off my barometer, and we then descended to the 
Aletsch glacier, followed its course till opposite the Aletsch 
Wald, and then climbing the south slopes, and crossing 
the ridge a little to the north of the Kieder Alp, made 
our way back by the Betten and Laaxer Alps to our hotel. 

It was amusing to watch Wellig's puzzled look when I 
told him of the meditated expedition. Every discovery of 
an additional excui-sion is an advantage to the hotel- 
keeper ; but then, " it was so early in the season that he 
hardly felt justified in encouraging me." I thanked him, 
said that my mind was quite made up, and that I would 
take the entire responsibility on myself, leaving him to 
find the necessary provisions. He still seemed to hesitate, 
fearing that if anything went wrong he should be blamed, 
but at length consented to facilitate my views, provided 
I would give him a written statement, that he had fairly 
represented the case to me, and that I had relieved him 
from all responsibility. All this sounded very absurd ; but 
considering that such expeditions are rarely taken at so 
early a period as the middle of June, and that, had any- 
thing gone wrong, he might have suffered in reputation, I 
at once complied with his request. 

The following day a messenger was despatched to Laax 
for the trusty Bennen, then a servant of the hotel, but 
now an independent guide on his own account; and as 
Bohren's boots wanted cobbling and he had no gaiters, he 







descended to Viesch, whilst I strolled away with Victor 
along the well-known watercourse towards the glacier of 
Viesch and the Marjelen Alp. After scrambling about for 
some hours, we descried a cosy nook in full view of the 
wildly-contorted ice-stream which struggled down through 
the rocky gorge at a great depth below us, and here, for 
three hours, we established ourselves in a state of lazy 
enjoyment, which past labours and the prospect of future 
hard work could alone justify. I would call the attention 
of travellers to the very beautifully formed and clearly 
defined ancient moraine of the Viesch glacier, — or 
perhaps, I should say, of the united glaciers of Viesch and 
Aletsch, — which may be seen from the neighbourhood of 
the hotel, and was very conspicuous from our resting-place. 
From a point rather below the present termination of the 
glacier, and on the east side of the valley, it sweeps round 
in a most graceful curve, overlapping at its southern 
extremity the village of Viesch, and clothed with pines, 
which thin off as the glacier is approached. Its true 
character is seen at a glance when once the eye catches 
its outline, whilst the recently constructed road leading to 
the upper Vallais, which zigzags up its terminal slope, 
offers several sections, disclosing the boulders and sand of 
which it is composed. 

On our return to the hotel we found that Bennen had 
arrived. His appearance at once impressed me most 
favourably, and I liked him none the less when he eagerly 
entered into my views, and pronounced the ascent of the 
Aletschhorn " ohne Ziueifel schwierig, dock moglich " 
(doubtless difficult, but yet possible). There was a frank 
hearty look about him, an honesty in the eye, and a 
quietness and simplicity of manner, which proved on this, 
as well as on many subsequent occasions, a true index of 
his character. 1 most cordially unite in the warm 

eulogium passed on him by Professor Tyndall, as well as 
in the more recent allusion to him by Mr. Hawkins in the 
graphic narrative of his and Professor Tyndall's attack on 
the Matterhorn. 

The afternoon proved stormy, snow and rain fell in 
considerable quantities, and a falling barometer rendered 
my hopes for tlfb morrow somewhat of the faintest. 
Appearances, however, improved after nightfall, and under 
M. Wellig's active superintendence, with numerous solemn 
consultations in the kitchen, at which everybody assisted, 
the necessary preparations progressed steadily. The great 
tin can, familiar to habitues of the Hotel de la Jungfrau, 
carried like a knapsack, and holding an indefinite number 
of bottles, was produced and nearly filled with good, sound 
vindupays, — not for want of anything better, but because 
there is much truth in Bennen's remark that " es schmeckt 
ganz gleich dort oben^^) it's all one up aloft). A bottle 
or two of champagne was added, by way of enabling me to 
study the expansion of gaseous bodies under a diminished 
atmospheric pressure — of course, for no other purpose. 
As for solids, it need not here be told how poulet and 
ham, sausage and mutton, bread, cheese, butter, and honey, 
with other good things galore, were duly consigned to a 
roomy " Hutte " or basket, nor how " noch ein stuck " of 
this, that, and the other was added to fill up crannies, till 
all were satisfied that there was no danger of a defi- 
ciency. There being no known resting-place, such as the 
Faulberg offers in ascents of the Finsteraarhorn, Jung- 
frau, &c., it was thought desirable to take a couple of 
coarse blankets, together with a small supply of fire- 
wood ; and then it was discovered that an additional pair 
of legs would be required to carry the mass of indis- 
pensables and luxuries we had by this time accumu- 
lated. Being in a particularly good humour, having a 



special dislike to bargaining, and taking into account the 
amount of additional fatigue caused by the deep fresh 
snow, I gave way, perhaps somewhat too readily, and the 
consequence was that we had the company of a strong, 
stolid individual, Alexander Biirker by name. He ap- 
peared to be all back et preterea nihil, a peculiarity which 
served our turn better than if there had been more talk and 
less do in his composition. 

On rising at 5 in the morning of the I7th, I found a 
dense fog concealing everything from view, and weather- 
wiser heads than mine shook ominously. The temperature 
had, however, fallen considerably ; and knowing that after 
the rain of the previous afternoon a fog might be ex- 
pected at this early hour, without being necessarily an un- 
favourable indication, I had no idea of giving up, or even 
delaying the expedition. Fortifying myself, therefore, 
with a hearty breakfast, I descended to the guides' apart- 
ment to superintend the final packing and adjustment of 
the loads. It is well always to see to these things oneself, 
and to obtain from the landlord a list of provisions, by 
which to check off each article as it is packed. By this 
means the not uncommon accident of leaving behind 
the salt, or sugar, or cups, or some other equally impor- 
tant article, is avoided. 

At length after much palaver, oft-repeated good wishes 
from our host, little speechifyings, and various other 
manoeuvres, of which a quiet Englishman bent on quietly 
accomplishing his work rarely sees the meaning or advan- 
tage, we got under weigh about 7. Our party consisted of 
Victor Tairraz, Peter Bohren, Joseph Bennen, the man 
with a back, and myself, two more than were necessary ; 
but, as I before mentioned, I was in a compliant humour, 
and for once let things take their course. 

The mists showed some signs of dispersing, though the 



appearance of the weather still continued anything but 
assuring, and grand masses of brouillard rolled over to- 
wards us from the other side of the Ehone valley, occasion- 
ally disclosing the mountain summits, deeply covered with 
fresh snow, — a sight w^hich boded ill for our success on the 
morrow. Pushing forward at a steady pace, we reached at 
8.30 a sort of depression or col, to the west of the 
^ggischhorn, after a long pull through soft snow. Here 
the Aletsch glacier came into view, but the opposite 
mountains were still entirely concealed. A steep descent 
down slopes of snow and rock brought us to the lateral 
moraine at 9.30 ; and as we had the day before us, and 
the cool morning air had sharpened our appetites, it was 
decided that a glass of wine and something to eat would 
be no bad idea. At 9.45 we were again en route, and 
taking to the ice struck across diagonally for the west 
side of the Aren or Mittler- Aletsch glacier, at the point 
where it sweeps round the base of the Sattelhorn and 
unites with the trunk stream. This direction, though it 
involved a slight detour, was selected in preference to the 
east or Olmenhorn bank, as the ice-fall in which the 
glacier terminates seemed on that side to present greater 

It has been asserted that the Aletsch glacier exhibits 
no medial moraine ; but this, as far as relates to the lower 
half of its course, is a mistake, which may have arisen 
from the circumstance, that the spectator stood at the side 
of, instead of facing, its mass. In the former position 
the bands, which are not so strikingly developed as on the 
Unteraar and other glaciers, might almost escape notice. 
When seen, however, from the Lusgen Alp, or the Furka, 
above the Kieder Alp, which command a view directly up 
the portion of the ice-stream extending from the pine- 
clad gorge beneath to a point a mile or more above the 









^orcrischhorn, three, if not four, well-defined, perfectly pa- 
rallel medial moraines are clearly distinguishable. They are 
separated by very narrow intervals, and are very unequal 
in maf^nitude. I have never been able to trace them 
clearly to their origin, but am inclined to think that one or 
more is derived from the Walliser Viescherhorner, whilst 
the others may have a more distant source, but, ingulfed 
in the neve, only come to light in the central and lower 
portion of the glacier. A photograph by Martens, taken 
from the Lusgen Alp, gives an admirable idea of these 
moraines, and of the course of the glacier as far as the 
Faulberg. I could see no dirt-bands nor regular swellings 
of the surface ; but the " ribbon structure " was beauti- 
fully developed, and its relation to the lines of pressure 
and the direction of the crevasses unmistakably clear. 

The passage of the glacier occupied about an hour, 
numerous detours being necessary in the more crevassed 
portions. After crossing the lateral moraine, formed by 
the union of the debris of the east and west slopes of the 
Olmenhorn and Dreieckhorner, which here cover a con- 
siderable surface, being spread out by the forward thrust 
of the Aren glacier, we reached at 10.45 the base 
of the Sattelhorn. Here a halt was called before com- 
mencing the ascent of the " seracs " to the upper level 
of the glacier, as a storm of snow and hail appeared to be 
sweeping down it, and our present position offered better 
shelter than was to be obtained higher up. A keen 
cutting wind now rushed down upon us in furious gusts, 
whirling angular fragments of hail, mixed with snow, in 
our faces ; and the thought would now and then intrude 
that a night on the ice, under such circumstances, might 
be a dubious pleasure. Gradually, however, the storm 
drew off down the gorge of the Massa, and soon after 
1 1 the foot of the ice-fall was reached, and a steep snow- 

slope ascended for half an hour, till a jutting rock was 
found, which tempted us to camp and lunch. As the 
loving cup went round, and the sky brightened, the spirits 
of all rose, and even the placid porter gave vent to his 
pent-up feelings in sundry "jauchsen'' and "jodeln;' 
which woke up a magnificent echo in the cliffs above. 

At 12.30 the word of command, '' vonvdrts;' was 
shouted by Bennen, and a short stiff scramble over and 
between the jagged masses of the dislocated glacier 
brought us to its central portion. As this was entirely 
covered with snow, and signs of crevasses abounded, 
the rope was put in requisition, and in single file we 
tramped steadily forward in a north-west direction, cross- 
ing the glacier diagonally towards the Dreieckhorner, 
and making for the western base of the Olmenhorn, 
in the hope of discovering some suitable place for the 

night's bivouac. 

For a long time our search proved fruitless, nothing in 
the shape of shelter presenting itself with the exception 
of a large isolated erratic block, resting upon the ice of 
the glacier, and which would have been only better than 
nothing, if we could have been certain that the wind 
would not shift during the night. Before, however, form- 
ing ourselves into an improvement and building com- 
mittee, it was resolved to make a further examination of 
the rocky sides of the Olmenhorn, and Bennen's quick eye 
having detected a promising-looking cranny at a consider- 
able height, he was despatched, about 2 o'clock, to make 
a closer investigation and report the result. This was 
speedily communicated to us, in what was supposed to be 
a favourable sense, by loud shoutings and hunting calls, 
and a climb of some 300 feet, soon enabled us to judge 
for ourselves of the discovery which had rewarded our 
perseverance. This was a cleft of no great width or depth, 







. * ) 



which, with the help of a little engineering, promised to 
be quite a palace compared with anything we had ventured 
to hope for. 

The first operation was to level the floor, which had a 
disagreeable slope, and this was soon accomplished with 
the aid of some flat stones, a good supply of which was at 
hand. Under these, a channel was scientifically constructed 
for the water of a little spring which welled out from the 
back of the cave, and proved a very convenient source of 
supply for our subsequent culinary operations. Leaving 
Victor and the porter to complete the " travaux de con-- 
8tmctio7i,'*^ Bennen, Bohren, and I started on a hay- 
making expedition, which proved eminently successful, 
and after a pleasant scramble returned, heavily laden, 
with a supply of dry grass, which, duly disposed upon our 
stony platform, made quite a luxurious couch. Our cave 
was evidently a favourite resort of chamois, to judge from 
the quantity of hair and numerous bones that lay scat- 
tered about. 

Our arrangements for the night being at length com- 
pleted, we began to think about dinner ; so, lighting my 
Kussian furnace *, a " casserole " of water was boiling 
merrily in less than five minutes, and a cake of Chollet's 
" Julienne an gras " being sliced into it, we were soon 
busily engaged upon a couple of quarts of really excellent 
soup and vegetables, as a first course, followed by pieces 
de resistance and entremets in the shape of mutton, veal, 
ham, and sausage. The soup, both from the manner of 
its production and intrinsic excellence, seemed to make a 
profound impression on my companions, who had, I 
suspect, previously imagined the brown-looking cakes out 
of which vegetables seemed to spring into existence, like 

* See Note 1 at end of this Article. 

flowers from a conjuror's hat, to be " der Hen^'s " supply 
of cavendish. Many an exclamation of surprise — " Sehen 
Sienur! wie es ist merhwilrdig T &c.— " Just look ! how 
wonderful !"— rose around me, as the process of conversion 
went on, and Bohren especially could not for a long time 
get the " vortreffliche Suppe " out of his head, as the 

sequel will show. 

Dinner over, whilst Victor, who is an universal genius, 
washed up, Bennen smoked his pipe, and I made some 
meteorological observations.* Bohren, who never seemed 
to be so happy or comfortable as when poking about 
amongst the rocks and into all manner of holes and 
corners, disappeared with Biirker over the edge of the 
cliff, and soon a perfect storm of rolling stones, ac- 
companied by vigorous strokes of the axe, gave signs of 
his never-ceasing activity. In half an hour he returned, 
with a flush of triumph on his good-humoured face, and 
informed us he had manufactured for himself a magnifi- 
cent " gite,'' which he begged me to come and see. 
• From the entrance of our cave the cliff fell away almost 
perpendicularly for a depth of eight or ten feet, to a little 
platform, which afforded a secure landing-place ; from this 
the level of the glacier was easily attained, by traversing 
a narrow ledge along the face of a precipitous rock, and 
scrambling down slopes, intersected by couloirs of debris 
or snow. Near the middle of the ledge, the rock receded 
or caved in for a length of four or five feet ; the recess 
extending back to a depth of about three feet, with a 
floor sloping inwards. On descending to this spot I found 
that Peter, ingeniously availing himself of the cranny, 
had improved upon it by ranging flat stones edgewise 
upon the ledge and along the opening, plugging the 

♦ These give for oiir cave a heiglit of 8896 English feet (mean of Geneva 
and St. Bernard). 





interstices with moss, and strewing the interior liberally 
with hay, leaving a hole at one end just large enough to 
wriggle his body through, feet foremost. In this way he 
had produced no bad imitation of a caddis-worm's cell ; 
and when inside, with nothing of him visible but his face, 
the general effect was not unlike that of a magnified 
Indian papoose. His performance drew down " thunders 
of applause," which speedily added Victor and Bennen to 
the circle of admirers ; and Peter, seeing how sincere my 
praise was, most politely insisted that I should occupy the 
cell. I at first declined ; but as he persisted, and the place 
really took my fancy amazingly, I gratefully accepted his 
handsome offer, though not without some scruples, such as 
a conscientious hermit crab might entertain before turn- 
ing a polite whelk out of his shell. 

The temptation was all the greater, for, in proportion 
as the prospects of the weather improved, the air became 
colder, and a keen northern blast would at times insinuate 
itself into our cavern, with an amount of cold-bloodedness 
that suggested uncomfortable wakings during the night, 
and undesirable shiverings down the back, in spite of all 
one might do to keep the intruder out, and notwithstand- 
ing a Scotch plaid stretched across the entrance. Already, 
indeed, we were so cool, not to say chilly, that we decided 
unanimously on a good scramble over the rocks of the 
Olmenhorn, — a description of exercise which, except where 
^' mauvais pas'^ necessitate caution and deliberation, 
is about as warming as any that can be selected. An hour 
of this work sent us back all in a glow to our snuggery, 
where we determined thoroughly to enjoy ourselves, till it 
was time to turn in. My " machine " was accordingly 
again put in requisition, some piping-hot grog was brewed, 
pipes were lit, and, as the smoke curled cheerily out into 
the evening air, it would not have been easy, I fancy, to 



find a merrier or happier party at any comfortable Eng- 
lish fireside. 

Conversation at length flagged, and, knowing that cold 
is much more felt when one is silent, and thinks about 
nerves, and sensations, and other abstractions, which ought 
not to be admitted for a moment into the mountaineer's 
vocabulary, I soon, in order to start the others, volunteered 
a song. Solo and chorus followed in quick succession, till 
the roof rang again with polyglot harmony, in which the 
inoTcdients contributed by my companions consisted, for the 
most part, of pathetic allusions to " Vaterland," unknown 
"Madchen," and impossible " Gremsen." Lest any one 
should be disposed to think that the " machine " or its 
contents had anything to do with these ditties, I beg to 
observe that my brew was of the mildest, and the allow- 
ance sternly homoeopathic: I always find that the most 
limited use of spirits, or, still better, entire abstinence, is to 
be recommended to the pedestrian, especially when liable 
to be exposed to long-continued cold or wet. 

Soon after 9 p.m., a rope having been first tied round my 
waist as a precaution whilst descending the cliff in the dark, 
I betook myself to my hole, some thirty or forty feet lower 
down, drew a woollen nightcap over my ears, — I had pre- 
viously donned a second shirt and pair of flannel trowsers, 

rolled myself snugly in one of our " couvertures,'' — a 

coarse sort of counterpane, — and was then built in with 
stones, — a large one forming the door, and only small 
crannies left for the admission of air. At first I thought 
I should be smothered ; but as the night wore on, the cold 
increased to a great degree, and, on rousing partially two 
or three times, I was glad to draw my wraps still more 
closely around me, and pile the hay upon my feet. 

I had scarcely settled when Peter commenced a series of 
sono-s, or one long epic — I don't know which, — and this, 






with the occasional assistance of Bennen, he contrived to 
keep lip with scarcely a moment's cessation till past 
midnight, as Victor, who wished to get some rest, and was 
excessively disgusted at having to listen to what he did not 
understand, afterwards informed me. I do not wish to be 
uncharitable, but (by way of parenthesis) I may remark 
that our stores comprised a bottle of " rhum,'' in case of 
need, which bottle is supposed to have slept near Bohren, 
and to have passed a very restless night, as its contents 
had partially evaporated before morning. I think the 
delinquent suggested, in reply to my remonstrances, 
that the cold might have had something to do with it, 
and I remember reading him a severe lecture on his 
folly, which ended in a little quarrel and ultimate recon- 

At 12.30 A.M., June 18th, after getting three hours of 
tolerably unbroken sleep, — an art in which I flatter myself I 
am a proficient, — I arose from my lair. Brilliant moonlight 
was penetrating through my breathing-holes, and a slight 
push at once sent the door of my apartment bounding 
down the rocks beneath, at the same time letting in such 
an amount of cold air as speedily removed the slightest 
inducement to prolong my slumbers. A vigorous crow, 
two or three times repeated, brought Bennen in hot haste 
to my rescue, and his strong arm soon extracted me, some- 
what after the fashion of a periwinkle, minus the inevit- 
able pin, and in a semi-fossilised condition, from my rocky 


I shall not soon forget that crawling forth into the 
intensely keen but perfectly still night air. G-lorious 
moonlight streamed up the glacier at my feet, whilst each 
rocky peak and snowy ridge, bathed in soft, subdued light, 
had an almost unearthly beauty, suggestive of scenic 
change or macric transformation. Our mountain, the 

Aletschhorn, rose proudly at the head of the valley, not 
even a wreath of mist clinging to its vast buttresses, and 
with an apparent calm, quiet consciousness of its own 
superiority, — a sort of now-then-come-on look about it, — 
that raised a responsive defiance in the heart, and made me 
long to be up and away, pitching into its icy ribs with 
alpenstock and axe. 

On reaching the cave I found Bohren's tide of melody 
still flowing, and, as interference at the moment would 
have been utterly useless, I left him for a time to himself. 
When Victor and I had brewed some famous hot tea, he 

doubtless retaining an agreeable reminiscence of the 

previous day's Julienne — insisted that our concoction was 
soup, and " recht gut " too, and proceeded deliberately to 
consume the leaves, an undesirable proceeding, against 
which I remonstrated with some success. Knowing how 
important it is on such occasions to make a good meal 
before starting, especially when, as in the present instance, 
the cold is extreme, Victor and I secured a substantial 
breakfast, and tried to induce the others to do the same. 
Bohren, however, was in far too exalted a state to listen 
to reason, Bennen had no inclination for food, and Biirker 
preferred taking out the time in sleep. The result later 
in the day was just what I had anticipated, — Biirker 
knocked up in a very short time, Bohren was generally 
indisposed, and at the foot of the final ascent declared he 
could go no further, whilst Bennen suffered greatly from 
difiiculty in breathing, and neither of them was quite right 
till the following day. Victor and I, on the contrary, were 
in excellent condition, and did not experience the slightest 

A moderate but sufficient supply of provisions and a 
bottle of champagne were consigned to a knapsack, the 
wine-can strapped on the porter's shoulders, and, all 

£ 2 






beincr at length ready for the start, we quitted our tempo- 
rary home at 2.30 a.m., scrambled cautiously down to the 
glacier, and were delighted to find the snow in excellent 
order, the keen frost having rendered it almost as solid as 
rock. Favoured by this circumstance, as well as by the 
bright moonlight, we made rapid progress, and at 3 
reached the head of the glacier, whence steep slopes of 
neve, intersected by numerous crevasses, led up to a sort of 
col or depression, the lowest point of a snowy arete con- 
necting the Aletschhorn with the Dreieckhorner. 

About this time I observed a phenomenon of rather 
rare occurrence, but which now presented itself on such 
a scale, and with such intensity, that I may be permitted 
something more than a mere passing reference to it. I 
allude to a " phosphorescence " of the snow, of which the 
MM. Schlagintweit remark* — "Snow and ice, especially 
large lumps of the latter, become slightly, but quite dis- 
tinctly, phosphorescent when brought into a dai'k room, 
after being exposed to the light at a temperature several 
degrees below the freezing point." These gentlemen, 
however, seem to have witnessed the appearance only 
from a distance, and when the luminous surface was 
projected against the sky, whilst in the present instance 
we were completely surrounded by it. The glacier valley 
we were traversing, the entire mass of the Aletschhorn, 
and the snowy aretes and slopes connecting it, on the one 
hand, with the Dreieckhorner, and on the other with the 
Eothhorn, shone with a soft lambent glow, something like 
that produced by the flame of naphtha, and reminding me 
strongly of the well-known ^' Grotta azzurra^* at Capri, 
though less decidedly blue in colour. It might have been 

♦ "Neue Uotersucliungen uber die Physicalisehe Geograpliie imd die 
Geologic der Alpen," yon Adolpli und Hermann Schlagintweit, page 480. 
ieipzig, 1S54. See also Note 2 at the end of this paper. 

the opening scene in some act of incantation, so weird and 
unearthly was the effect, and my companions seemed to 
entertain the notion that it was not altogether " canny." 
Happening to look down, a new surprise awaited me. At 
every step we took an illuminated circle or nimbus, about 
two inches in breadth, surrounded our feet, and we 
seemed to be ploughing our way through fields of light, 
and raising clods of it, if I may be allowed the expres- 
sion, in our progress. I was inclined at first to attribute 
this effect to the action of the moon's rays, as they fell 
obliquely upon the small cloud of fine snowy particles 
raised by the movement of our feet ; and I still feel some 
little uncertainty on this point. Of the character of the 
general phenomenon, however, no doubt could exist, as its 
intensity increased when the moon sank behind the Roth- 
horn, and the sides of that mountain, now in deep shadow, 
presented the appearance of a transparency, as they shone 
with the subdued brilliancy of a glacier vault or " bei^g- 

On the lower portion of the ascent before us, the neve 
was much crevassed, and, as the fissures were dangerously 
masked by the fresh snow, some caution and many 
detours were required to effect a passage. Once, however, 
clear of the maze, steep slopes of solid snow alone 
separated us from the col; and as, at 4 a.m., the thermo- 
meter indicated a temperature of only —7° Centigrade (19° 
Fahrenheit), a rapid pace was both easy and agreeable. 

The pale tints of dawn had been stealing over the 
summit of the Aletschhorn for nearly an hour, when, at 
4.15, the ruddy hues of sunrise struck the topmost peak, 
and soon the mountain was all aglow in a blaze of splen- 
dour which I have never seen surpassed in magnificence. 
Almost at the moment of lighting up, a soft fleecy cloud 
seemed to spring into being close to the surface of the 





SNOW ar£te. 


Aren glacier behind us. An instant before all had been 
clear, and now there was the misty veil, which " rose like 
an exhalation," and gradually faded away as the sun 
gained power. The vapour was probably then in a state 
of invisible suspension, and its sudden appearance must 
have depended on some effect of oblique illumination, 
which often produces most striking, and, at first, almost 
incomprehensible effects. Throughout the day, with the 
exception of this passing visitor, not a cloud, nor even the 
faintest wreath of mist, dimmed the dark-blue vault above 
us, and the vast horizon of mountain chains. 

At 4.30 the thermometer indicated -9-5° C, or 15° R, 
and only rose to— 8° C. in my pocket ; but the air was still, 
and our rapid progress up the steep slopes set us all in 
a glow. There were decided symptoms, however, of a 
very different state of things on the ridge in our front. 
Clouds of fine snow were whirling into the air like smoke, 
— a sign equally unmistakable and unwelcome that a 
furious " vent du Nord " was vexing the upper world with 
its keen blast. It required, therefore, but little logic or 
acuteness to show that our endurance would be put to a 
pretty severe test ere the goal should be won and our 
present sheltered position regained. 

At 5.15 the col was reached: there was a sudden 
glimpse into a new world, a wild sea of peaks,— Jungfrau 
and ]Monch, Gletscherhorn and Ebnefluh, — and then, 
phiz— z I right in our faces came a blast of such keenness, 
and charged with such a storm of icy spicula, that it seut 
us reeling backwards, eyes, ears, mouth, and nose filled 
with the fine frozen particles which insinuated themselves 
into everything. Our worthy porter, who had got thus far 
in safety and silence, now announced that he was knocked 
up, and was accordingly relieved of his tin, fed, and 
dismissed, to find his way back at his leisure to the cave. 

and there await our return. We likewise retraced our 
steps a few paces till below the line of fire, and made a 
second breakfast of bread, meat, cheese, and champagne, 
partly on the principle that — 


He that would fortify the mind, 
Must first the body fill" — 

and partly because, by this time, cold and exercise had not 
a little sharpened our appetites. While seated here, the 
sun peeped over the ridge between the Olmenhorn and 
Dreieckhorner, and looked comfortable, if it did not warm 
us much; for the thermometer had now got down to 
— 10° C, or 14° F., and certain sensations in outlying 
portions of the body warned us that a long stay would be 


So, at 5.45 A.M. we again addressed ourselves to our 
task, leaving the commissariat in the safe custody of a 


A nearly level ridge or arete of snow, some two 
hundred yards in length, and running up to a thin 
edo-e, extended south-westwards from the point we had 
reached, sinking again into a second slight depression, 
beyond which rose the upper portion of the Aletschhorn, 
with its double summit. On both sides the arete fell 
away in extremely precipitous slopes of snow and neve, 
which terminated to the south in the Aren glacier, and on 
the north in that upper branch of the Aletsch glacier 
which has been already referred to as descending from the 
Lotschsattel. The wind and snow had formed on this 
latter side a '^ corniche'' or eave, and it was therefore 
necessary to traverse the length of the ridge a little below 
its summit, by which means we were also partially pro- 
tected from the chilling northern blast. This was the most 
doubtful part of the whole expedition, as the southern 







slope, rapid enough at first, descended at a constantly 
increasing angle, and became all but perpendicular as it 
approached the glacier beneath ; whilst " there was nothino- 
to arrest a falling body in its fearful plunge " of 2000 feet. 
A good head, however, care in roping, and caution in 
placing the feet, will in all such cases reduce the risk to a 
minimum. The real danger lay in the fresh snow which 
our united weight might set in motion, thus producing an 
avalanche, against which, in such a position, nothing but 
the utmost coolness and the promptest action could, as we 
had soon occasion to prove, avail anything. 

Here, however, the frost came to our aid, bindinfr the 
snow in its icy grasp, and giving us confidence in the 
security of our footing, though what effect the sun might 
produce in the interval that must elapse before our 
return, was a question which, as it involved an unpleasant 
doubt, was dismissed from our minds. The axe was now 
brought into requisition for the first time, Bennen and 
Victor taking turns at step-cutting, as Bohren was suffer- 
ing from the cold ; and with scarcely a halt we worked 
steadily forward, reaching at the end of three-quarters of 
an hour, or at 6.30, the second col or depression, which 
was the limit of the arete in this direction. The more 
rapid portion of the ascent now commenced ; and as we 
wound up and round the slopes of the lower and more 
easterly summit, the wind, being in our backs, rather 
assisted our progress, though its attentions were still more 
boisterous than pleasant. Showers of fine snowy particles 
were hurled, as if in spite, against every weak point in our 
defences, and our back hair was soon a mere mass of 
bobbing icicles. 

About 7 we reached a bergschrund, a species of 
crevasse usually met with at the base of the higher and 
steeper slopes, and probably produced by the lower snow- 

fields giving way. These often present serious obstacles, 
especially at a later period of the year, when they attain 
their maximum development, and the bridges of snow, 
which in June and July offer a safe mode of transit, are 
altoo-ether melted, or become so attenuated as to afford but 
a treacherous support. In the present instance, however, 
we managed to turn the enemy ; and passing soon after- 
wards, in a similar way, round some awkward crevasses 
in the neve, exquisitely fringed with enormous icicles, 
we found ourselves in a sort of hollow between the 
two summits, the lower of which, a rounded dome, rose 
on the right some one to two hundred feet above us, 
whilst the higher shot up steeply before us to a much 
greater elevation. From this last we were still separated 
by a second bergschrund, which there was no avoiding, as 
it swept completely round the foot of the final ascent. 
The passage was soon effected, however, without much dif- 
ficulty, and at 8 o'clock the first step was cut in the frozen 
slope, which rose steeply from its margin. 

The snow, covered with an icy " croute,''^ lay at an angle 
of 50° ; and as every step had to be cut, we made but slow 
progress, and were necessarily much exposed to the blast, 
which could now batter us to its heart's content. Con- 
stant movement of both feet and hands was requisite to 
prevent frost-bites, and more than once I heard poor Peter 
piteously exclaiming, " Ich Jcann nichts mehr ; ich muss 
sterhen ivenn ich nicht zurilek gehe ("I can do no 
more; I must die if I don't go back"). As, however, I 
knew that, as long as he kept moving, there was little or no 
danger of his coming to any harm, and he had besides 
brought his sufferings on himself entirely by his thought- 
lessness, my sympathies were not very strongly excited or 
freely expressed, and I dare say I appeared in a most 
unamiable light. Gradually the mass above us tapered 



away more and more, and at length, after a stiff climb 
of three-quarters of an hour, and with the aid of rather 
more than two himdred steps, we stood upon the summit 
exactly at 8.45 A. M. The effect was startling. A moment 
before, and nothing was visible but the snow-slope and 
the heels of the man in front, and now there was nothins" 
above us but the sky, whilst all the world was at our 

The first thing to be done was to set up my barometer, 
in order that it might have as long a time as possible to 
settle. After an exposure of a quarter of an hour, the 
reading was 4604 millimetres (reduced to 0-° C) ; air tem- 
perature in shade, - 12-2° C, or 10° F. ; in sun, -6-7° C, 
or 20° F. This indicates, by comparison wdth Geneva and 
the St. Bernard, a height of 13,664 and 13,633 feet 
respectively, or a mean of 13,648, which is 155 feet less 
than that given by the Swiss engineers. 

A wind of such violence as almost to carry one off one's 
legs, driving snow, and 22° (Fahr.) of frost, are not quite 
the companions one would select for the examination of 
so vast and diversified a panorama, and the " cui bono " 
argument may here appear to the uninitiated unanswer- 
able. Scoffers may laugh and wise men shake their heads ; 
but, in spite of them all, I unhesitatingly maintain that 
there is a joy in these measurings of strength witb nature 
in her wildest moods, a quiet sense of work done, and 
success won in the teeth of opposition which, whether we 
owe it to our Anglo-Saxon blood, as some may hold, or 
whether it be only one of the modes in which the "con- 
trariness" of human nature crops out in certain indi- 
viduals, are nevertheless as genuine feelings as that which, 
at the witching hour of dinner, attracts unto his club the 
mildest, most comfortable, and least erratic old gentle- 
man who "dwells at home at ease." Nay, could the 



writer of the clever article in the Times on mountaineers 
and their pursuits, which set us all laughing some time 
ago, be induced to enter the lists against some doughty 
giant of the mountain-land, I should not despair of his 
bein«- won over to the climber's view of the question. 

To return, however, to myself and my companions, left 
shivering all this time on our snowy pedestal. I will 
frankly confess that my descriptive powers are totally 
unable to grapple with either the vast extent or thousand 
details of the wonderful view which stretched away end- 
lessly in widening circles, till mountain and valley, earth 
and sky, were blended in the blue haze of distance. Even 
could I give to the component parts the most pictorial 
crrouping, and place them before the reader in their all 
but endless succession, I fear that I should fall miserably 
short of conveying an adequate impression of the scene. 
Abandoning, therefore, the attempt to catalogue, let us 
see what can be done in the way of classification, by 
simply indicating some of the more prominent centres, 
around one or other of which the minor details group 
themselves. These are the mountains of the Oberland ; 
the great plain of Switzerland, bounded by the Jura ; the 
Bernina group, with the mountains of the Grrisons and 
Tyrol; Monte Kosa and her allies, from Monte Leone on 
the east to Mont Velan on the west; the massif of Mont 
Blanc; and far away, mellowed by distance*, yet defined 
with the utmost sharpness of outline, the rugged forms of 
the ''montagnes dVysans,'' which, till the cession of 

* The summits of the Aletschhorn and Grand Pelvoux are distant from 
one another about 135 miles, as the crow flies ; and I do not recollect ever 
having been able to identify a mountain at a greater distance. It is popu- 
larly supposed that the Orteler Spitz is visible from Monte Kosa ; but there 
are good reasons for believing this idea to be a myth, and, at any rate, the 
extent of vision implied is scarcely so great as in the case of the summite 
of Dauphiae. 



Savoy, boasted, in the ]Mont Pelvoux, the loftiest summit 
^ in France. The intelligent reader will know how to 
clothe these colossal masses for himself in all their mao-ic 
colouring and variety of form, and thus, like another 
Cuvier or Owen, build up from the disjointed framework 
here merely indicated, that goodly portion of our common 
mother which is embraced mthin its limits. My more 
modest task shall be confined to a few remarks on the 
first-mentioned group, — that of the Oberland, — of which 
the Aletschhom itself is a distinguished member, as a 
glance sufficed to assure us. 

With the exception of the rocky pyramid of the Fin- 
steraarhorn, and the yet loftier summits of the Pennines 
and Halites Alpes, we overtopped everything within the 
range of vision, though of our nearer neighbours the sharp 
peak of the Jungfrau appeared but little inferior in al- 
titude. The great elevation of our position was perhaps 
most strikingly illustrated by the fact that, on the north, 
the eye ranged completely over the chain which extends 
from the Jungfrau to the Breithorn, and comprises the 
lofty summits of the (xletscherhorn,Ebnefluh, ]Mittacrhorn. 
and Grosshorn, none of them less than 12,000 feet in heio-ht 
There lay, stretched out before us till lost in the obscurity 
of distance, or bounded more distinctly in a KW. direc- 
tion by the range of the Jura, the great plain of Switzerland, 
over the surface of which hung a veil of mist, serving to 
remind us that a very different climate to ours was en- 
joyed by its inhabitants, whilst, at the same time, it 
rendered minute details undistinguishable. 

Turning now to the opposite quarter of the compass, 
the eye followed the snake-like windings of the Simplon 
road,— the " canthus " dwarfed into the semblance of 
milestones,— bounded, on the one hand, by the heights of 
the Monte Leone, and on the other by the still more 



imposing mass of the Fletschhorn. Away in the far south, 
the faint blue outline of more distant summits rose from 
out the haze of the Lombard plain, where the legions of 
France and Piedmont were then engaged in deadly strife 
with the hated " Tedeschi." The combats of Palestro 
and Montebello,']the melee of Magenta, the wild enthusiasm 
of recovered liberty at Milan, and the fierce fight of 
Melegnano, had now given place to that pause, which, like 
the lull that precedes the hurricane, preluded the hour 
when, from early dawn till the stormy close of a summer's 
day, the hostile ranks surged in fearful shock round the 
heights of Solferino. These reflections, if they did not 
occur to me at the time, doubtless ought to have done so ; 
but I was unluckily in total ignorance of everything that 
had happened at the seat of war subsequent to Magenta, 
and so thought took a more prosaic form. It required, 
however, no great stretch of the imagination to picture 
what might be going on at the moment ; and the conscious- 
ness that events which riveted the attention of Europe were 
then developing themselves behind that rocky barrier, 
and within the range of our vision, served at least to 
enhance the sense of vastness which, in the abstract, the 
mind almost fails to grasp. For the mere statement that 
a radius of 100 miles hardly defines the sphere of vision, 
suggests to most persons no very precise idea. 

As already mentioned, the lower or eastern summit of 
the Aletschhorn consists of a rounded dome, which now lay 
some 600 or 800 feet beneath us, and was hardly distin- 
guishable from the snow-fields out of which it rose. The 
highest point on which we stood consisted, at the time, of 
a nearly level and very narrow ridge of snow, extending 
in a N.E. and S.W. direction for a distance of 80 or 100 
feet. In the centre and highest portion of this a small 
rocky patch was visible, enabling me to secure a souvenir 






in the shape of the summit, which was at once transferred 
to my pocket. On the N. and E. the ground falls away very 
rapidly, but on the S. and W. snowy aretes less precipitous, 
at any rate for the first few hundred yards, establish a 
connection with the Kothhorn, and the upper neve of the 
little known but very beautiful Jagi glacier. This last, 
lying between the Aletschhorn and Gross Nesthorn, and 
exhibiting some beautifully developed medial moraines, 
might be reached, probably without any great difficulty, 
by the Ober Aletsch glacier, ' which indeed is its southern 
outlet ; and though I do not think the Aletschhorn itself 
could be attacked from this side with much chance of 
success, it must form a very imposing feature in the view. 
It might be possible to effect a passage in this direction 
into the valley of Lotsch, thus avoiding the long detour by 
the Lotschsattel (indeed this has, I believe, been- already 
accomplished by the late M. Lahner, cure of Kippel), and 
I strongly recommend my brother mountaineers to direct 
their attention to the exploration of its recesses, believing 
that they will be amply rewarded by very fine scenery 
and some interesting topographical results. 

We had been on the summit rather more than half an 
hour, of which I had made diligent use to fix in my mind, 
as far as possible, the greater features, at least, of the 
magnificent panorama ; but, finding that Bennen's breath 
was much affected, whilst the dark blue appearance of his 
and Eohren's face, arising from the congestion of the 
minuter blood-vessels, showed what a hold the cold had 
taken of them, I reluctantly resolved to commence the 
descent. This I the more regretted, as it is not often 
possible to gain so great a height so early in the day, 
or in such glorious weather, and I should have liked to 
devote several hours to a careful examination o£ the 
details of the panorama which, under the circumstances. 

was out of the question. Another reason against delay, 
was the possible effect of the increasing power of the sun, 
which might render the passage of the arete a matter of 
difficulty and danger. The champagne experiment was, 
unfortunately for science, a failure, from a similar cause to 
that assigned for the invisibility of the Spanish fleet by 
the Governor of Tilbury Fort in the " Critic " — 

" The Spanish fleet thou canst not see, 
Because — it is not yet in sight." 

The bottle had been left behind at the col. My barometer 
was carefully replaced in its case, one more good look 
taken, and at 9.20 a.m. we were off. 

The descent of the final slope had to be accomplished 
backwards, as the inclination was too great to allow of the 
heels being inserted in the steps ; but the footing was firm, 
and we soon found ourselves at the upper edge of the 
bergschrund, which, it being as yet but slightly developed, 
we cleared by a flying leap. At 10.25, or in less than half 
the time occupied in the ascent, we reached the W. end of 
the ar^te, and soon had cause to congratulate ourselves on 
not having delayed our return, as, though our traces were 
still visible, the surface had become soft, and frequently 
slipped away beneath the feet. Treading with caution and 
as lightly as possible, so as not to disturb the slightly cohe- 
rent snow, we proceeded rapidly onwards, and at 10.50 
reached the col beneath the rocks of the Dreieckhorner. 
Here we halted, the barometer was set up, and prepara- 
tions made for a hearty lunch. After an exposure of half 
an hour I read off the instrument, which indicated 497*2 
millimetres (reduced), with an air temperature of — 3*9° 
Cent., or 25° Fahr. This, compared with Geneva and the 
St. Bernard, gives for the height 11,864 and 11,778 feet re- 
spectively, or a mean of 11,821. A determined onslaught 






was now made on the contents of our provision sack : the 
vigorous leap of the champagne cork proved an interesting 
and agreeable confirmation of the diminished pressure in- 
dicated by the barometer, and, in the foaming contents, 
most unmistakably iced, and strongly resembling acidulated 
pins and needles, we drank to the health of absent friends 
and our lately vanquished foe. 

The earliness of the hour, the continued brilliancy of 
the day, and the total absence of all sense of fatigue, now 
suggested to me the idea that something more might be 
effected ; and, as I intended on the next day but one to 
proceed to Kippel by way of the Lotschsattel, it at once 
occurred to me that an attempt might be made with Victor 
and Peter to cross the ridge, and descend on the JST. to 
the Aletsch glacier, which would, if we were successful, be 
reached at a point about two miles to the E. of the " Sattel." 

Unfortunately none of us knew much of the character 
of the northern side of the mountain, and, as usual, it was 
difiicult to judge from above of the nature of the obstacles 
to be encountered. That the descent must be extremely 
rapid we were well aware ; but from its position the sun 
could have had but little effect in softening the snow ; 
the frost was still keen in the shade, and we trusted to our 
ice-axe and alpenstocks, which had ere then taken us safely 
through many as doubtful a labyrinth. 

The decision once come to, no time was to be lost in 
carrying it into effect : the wine-can and empty knapsack 
were shouldered by Bennen, accounts settled between us to 
his satisfaction, and, shaking him warmly by the hand, we 
parted with mutual injunctions, " Acht zu nehmen,''^ — he 
of the concealed crevasses in the neve, we of the " tlefei" 
Ahgi^ncV We watched him for a moment as he went 
merrily down the mountain side, and then, after carefully 
roping, with long intervals between us, stepped over the 

ridge, Victor in advance, I in the middle, and Peter 
bringing up the rear. 

For some time we got on pretty well — a frozen " croute '' 
on the surface enabling us to secure our footing without 
having to resort to the axe ; but the slope soon became of 
the rapidest (I estimated it at upwards of 40°), and many 
were Victor's injunctions to ^'assurer hien les pas " and 
" enf oncer le baton,'' No precaution was neglected, and 
well was it for us all that we had not now to learn for the 
first time how to handle the trusty alpenstock. 

We had accomplished in safety a distance of scarcely 
more than 150 yards when, as I was looking at the 
Jungfrau, my attention was attracted by a sudden exclama- 
tion from Victor, who appeared to stagger, and all but lose 
his balance. At first, the idea of some sort of seizure or 
an attack of giddiness presented itself, but, without stopping 
to inquire, I at once turned round, drove my good 8-foot 
ash-pole as deeply as possible through the surface layer of 
fresh snow into the firmer stratum beneath, tightened the 
rope to give Victor support, and shouted to Peter to do 
the same. All this was the work of an inatant, and a 
glance at once showed me what had happened. Victor 
was safe for the moment, but a layer or " couche " of snow, 
ten inches to a foot in thickness, had given way exactly 
beneath his feet, and first gently, and then fleet as an arrow, 
went gliding down, with that unpleasant sound somewhat 
resembling the escape of steam, which is so trying to the 
nerves of the bravest man, when he knows its full and true 
significance. At first, a mass eighty to one hundred yards 
in breadth, and ten or fifteen in length, alone gave way, 
but the contagion spread, and ere another minute had 
elapsed the slopes right and left of us, for an extent of at 
least half a mile, were in movement, and, like a frozen 
Niagara, went crashing down the ice-precipices and seracs 







that still lay between us and the Aletsch glacier, 1800 
to 2000 feet below. The spectacle was indescribably 
sublime, and the suspense for a moment rather awful, as 
we were clinging to an incline at least as steep as that on 
the Grindelwald side of the Strahleck — to name a familiar 
example, — and it was questionable w^hether escape would 
be possible, if the layer of snow on the portion of the 
slope we had just been traversing should give way before 
we could retrace our steps. 

Not a moment was to be lost; no word was spoken 
after the first exclamation, and hastily-uttered, " au col ! 
et vitef' and then in dead silence, with batons held aloft 
like harpoons, ready to be plunged into the lower and 
older layers of snow, we stole quietly but rapidly up 
towards the now friendly looking " corniche,' and in a 
few minutes stood once more in safety on the ridge, with 
feelings of gratitude for our great deliverance, which, 
though they did not find utterance in words, were, I 
believe, none the less sincerely felt by all of us. " II n'a 
manque que peu a un grand malheur^' quietly remarked 
Victor, who looked exhausted, as well he might be after 
what he had gone through; but a goutte of cognac all 
round soon set us right again, and shouting to Bennen, 
who was still in sight, though dwindled in size to a mere 
point, w^e were soon beside him, running down the neve 
of our old friend the Aren glacier. The snow was now soft* 

* The contrasts of temperature in mountain regions are sometimes very 


In a few moments the traveller exchanges an arctic for a tropical climate 
or vice vcrsd, and to sensitive persons this meeting of extremes is sometimes 
productive of much discomfort. 

Hugi, in the interesting description of his perilous attempts to ascend 
the Finsteraarhom, mentions (" Naturhistorische Alpenreise," page 194) that 
•within a few hours the thermometer had ranged from — 10° Reaumur to 
between + 20<' and 30° (9°-5 to 77° or 99° Fahr.); and I have no doubt the 
extremes were equally great on the occasion above referred to. Near the 

and the heat tremendous, and both Bennen and Bohren 
showed signs of fatigue ; but a rapid pace was still main- 
tained in spite of the frequent crevasses. Some were 
cleared in a series of flying leaps, whilst into others 
which the snow concealed, one and another would occa- 
sionally sink, amid shouts of laughter from his companions, 
who, in their turn, underwent a similar fate. To the 
carefully-secured rope, which with the alpenstock and ice- 
axe are the mountaineer's best friends, we owed it that 
these sudden immersions were a mere matter of joke ; 
but even the sense of security which it confers does not 
altogether prevent a " creepy " sensation from being 
experienced, as the legs dangle in vacancy, and the sharp 
metallic ring of the icy fragments is heard as they clatter 
down into the dark blue depths below. 

Suddenly, to our great surprise, on rounding some seracs, 
we came upon Burker in a state of amusiug bewilderment. 
He had somehow contrived to quit the track, had next 
dropped his baton into a crevasse, and, after struggling 
on some little distance, had got into such a confused 
state of mind that he dared venture no farther, and 
resolved to await our return. Relieving him from his icy 

summit of the Col d'Argentifere, at 10-25 a.m., July 2nd, 1860, a thermo- 
meter in the shade stood at 0° Centigrade (32° Fahr.), whilst one with a 
black bulb exposed to the sun, which was by no means so powerful as I 
have often found it on such occasions, indicated 35°-5 C. (92°-3 Fahr.), a 
difference of 60° Fahr. Dr. Hooker ("Himalayan Journals," vol. ii. Ap- 
pendix, page 410, 1st edition) records still more extraordinary results in the 
foUowing terms :— " At 10,000 feet, in December, at 9 a.m., I saw the mercury 
(in a black bulb thermometer), mount to 132°, with a difference of + 94°, 
whilst the temperature of shaded snow hard by was 22°; at 13,100 feet, in 
January, at 9 a.m., it has stood at 98° difference + 68°-2 ; and at 10 a.m 
at 114° difference + 81°-4, whilst the radiating thermometer on the snow 
had faUen at sunrise to 3°7. In December, at 13,500, 1 have seen it 110°, 
difference + 84°; at 11 a.m., 11,500 feet, 122°, difference + 82°. This is 
but a small selection fi-ora many instances of the extraordinaiy power of 
solar radiation in the coldest months at great altitudes." 

F 2 




{■ I 

prison, our united party proceeded on its way ; the glacier 
was at length traversed, the rocks climbed, and, bathed in 
perspiration, and, like Chaucer's Sompnour, with " fyr-reed 
cherubynes face," we entered the cave at 1.20 p.m., after 
an absence of about eleven hours. 

As there were still many hours of daylight left, it was 
resolved to remain quietly here till the intense heat should 
have a little abated. And soon the prostrate forms and 
loud breathing of my companions showed that they 
appreciated and were availing themselves of the luxury of 
repose. I had plenty of occupation in completing my 
notes, observing the barometer, which indicated a height 
of 8896 feet, and depositing a record, with a rough map of 
our route in an empty bottle, to be left in a crevice of the 
rock for the benefit of future comers. As the remainder 
of our stock of wine was served out, I proposed that our 
quarters should be christened the " Gasthof zum Benneny^ 
in compliment to that worthy, and the prosperity of the 
house was drunk with all the honours. Our traps were then 
collected, the few remaining bits of wood put in a dry 
corner jpro bono publico, and at 4 o'clock, not without 
feelings of regret, we quitted the spot which had afforded 
us such good shelter, and had begun by this time to feel 
quite homeish. 

At 5 P.M. we gained the level surface of the Aletsch glacier, 
at 6 the head of the Marjelen See was reached, and at 
8.15 P.M. we entered the hotel, amidst the warm greetings 
of M. Wellig and his staff. 

Little more remains to add; but I cannot close this 
paper without some allusion to the admirable qualities 
which Victor had shown throughout the expedition. Cool, 
cautious, and yet daring as the bravest where my wishes 
or circumstances called forth the exercise of the latter 
quality, I found him then, as I have ever found him 

before and since, equal to any emergency. We have 
roughed it together in storm and shine, in cold and heat, 
on breezy col and rugged peak, and I should be ungrateful 
did I not here bear testimony to his excellence. I may 
add that I do not know his equal as a care-taker of ladies, 
in which capacity he acquitted himself in 1860 a merveille, 
under rather trying circumstances.* 

A few words by way of summary, and I have done. 
Since my ascent, the summit of the mountain has, if I 
am not mistaken, been only once attained, by a party of 
English gentlemen, who, I believe, encountered no more 
serious difficulties than had attended my expedition. I 
would, however, venture to recommend the excursion, as 
deserving the more frequent attention of mountaineers, 
not only from its intrinsic interest, but because it possesses 
many not unimportant advantages over those to the Fin- 
steraarhorn and Jungfrau. With the last-named moun- 
tain I am not personally acquainted, but its position is 
less central, and I imagine that it must therefore be in- 
ferior as a point of view. As to the Finsteraarhorn, I can 
speak from my own experience, having had an opportunity 
in 1860 of gaining its summit; and my opinion is that, 
though the distant view is necessarily very similar, the 
Aletschhorn, on the whole, offers finer grouping in the 
nearer scenery. Apart from this, however, there can be 
no question that the position of the night-quarters at the 
Faulberg and " Gasthof zum Bennen,'^'' in relation to the 
respective mountains, is decidedly in favour of the latter. 

* In offering these remarks, it mil, I hope, be understood that I by no 
means wish to make an undue distinction between Victor and such other 
first-rate fellows as Melchior Anderegg, Bennen, Perrn, Auguste Balmat, 
Auguste Simond, Croz, and many more, who are not to be surpassed in all 
that constitutes excellence in a guide and pleasantness in a companion ; but 
it has been my lot to be thrown more with Victor than with any of them, 
and in him I naturally feel a special interest. 







The distance to be traversed is very much shorter, as a 
glance at the map will show, and the necessity, as in re- 
turning from the Finsteraarhorn either by the Griinhorn 
Lucke or Vieseh glacier, of reascending or traversin- a 
dangerously-crevassed gkcier, perhaps at a late hour'' is 
exchanged for an uniform and a gentle descent over broad 
and open surfaces of ice. 

Note 1. 

Tlie boiling apparatus referred to in the preceding narrative was 
constructed tor rae by Mr. Stevenson of Edinburgh so«e "^ 
ago, and has been my constant companion in the mountains. Bv 
a simple arrangement, it is rendered equally adapted for cooking 

chatr r 'T^''- ' *~*- --ted in a steam! 
chamber furmshmg the means of ascertaining the boiling point 
from which the altitude is obtained either by a special forfrnda 

™htheaidofRegnauIt'sTable ofEquivalL/res.surer S 
chtf peculiarity of the '^,nachiner however, consists in the 

Russian furnace," the action of which is xather facihtated than 

mpeded by wmd, and is so powerful and rapid that snow pressS 

holdin^l^" "^ ^'-'-P'-ted copper vessel or '^calT^' 
holding about a quart, may, by means of it, be converted into 
boihng water, even at the greatest altitude; in from thre to 
four minutes. This ingenious contrivance is, in principle, a self! 
a ng blow-pipe vapour of spirits of wine being the fgent em- 
ployed. A small copper saucer is filled with spirit from a 
measure provided for the purpose, and upon it is placedTcy- 
hndn<.l chamber with hoUow centre, which has been sLuaX 
charged through a hole at the side. This hole being closed S 
a screw, there ts no vent left for the enclosed spirit Lt a cunS 
^be with extremely narrow orifice. The sp/rit in the saucer 
being Ignited, soon causes that contained in the closed chamber 
to boil; vapour of spirit is given off, which escapes with Toul 

through the hoUow centre of the cylinder with great force and 

t?thTlabr'*^ "*r '"* °'^^^"'^ renders if alike adapt:' 
to the laboratoty or the mountain top,_to the boiling of a ther- 
xnometer, or the preparation of soup, tea, coffee, and Chocolate 

Note 2. 
On the ^^ PhospJiorescence'^ of Snow and Ice, 

The following observations and remarks with reference to this 
phenomenon may not be without interest. They occur in the 
interesting work of the MM. Schlagintweit ("Neue Unter- 
suchungen, &c., pp. 479-80) already alluded to. 

" On the snow-clad slopes of the Alpine summits, and, during 
winter, even on snowy surfaces in the plains, a peculiar brightness 
Q HelUglceiV) is ocasionally observed during the earlier hours 
of the night. 

" In the Alps, the appearance recalls the ^ second colouring ' 
after sunset, and frequently immediately succeeds it, without, in 
my opinion, being connected with it. I cite a few examples. 

" From the Vincent-hiitte we frequently remarked, especially 
during the night of September 12-13, 1851, that the snow-fields 
throughout the night stood out clear from the background, not- 
withstanding that the sky was obscured by an imiform stratum of 
clouds ; although the moon was near the full, not even the slight- 
est glimmer indicated the existence of open spaces between the 
clouds, parallactically concealed from us. In the valleys, too, of 
Piedmont and Switzerland, we repeatedly noticed a greater bright- 
ness of the snow in contrast with the uniformly obscured sky. 
As, however, it is impossible in the valleys to command such a 
view of the horizon as is obtained at the Vincent-hiitte, the sup- 
position cannot be altogether excluded that oblique illumination 
may have been the cause, though the absence of the moon, and 
the clouded state of the heavens, render this improbable. 

" The following observations may be cited as instances of 
similar phenomena : — 

*' Professor Bertz informed me that, when crossing the Col de 
Balme on a night so dark that it was impossible to distinguish the 
nearest objects, the Glacier des Bois (Bossons?) could be seen 
with perfect distinctness, as a luminous surface on the farther 
Bide of the valley of Chamounix. 

" In the Vallais a similar appearance was observed during the 
winter of 1851 on the snow-covered declivities of the Khone 


"During the stay of Agassiz at the * Pavilion' (on the lower 




glacier of the Aar), a peculiar luminosity of the glacier, which 
here lies at a depth of nearly 100 metres, was remarked. 

" As was to be expected, the phenomenon was most distinct 
during the darkest nights. 

" The appearances here referred to point very clearly to a light 
evolving property in snow, through phosphorescence. Snow and 
ice, especially large pieces of the latter, become slightly but 
quite distinctly phosphorescent when brought into a dark' room 
after exposure to light at a temperature several degrees below 
the^ freezing point. The light appears of a bluish colour. 

"Placidus Heinrich, in his numerous researches into the phos- 
phorescence of various bodies, has also investigated ice, and found 
It weakly phosphorescent. 

*' During the winter of 1852-3, and especially on the 27th of 
February, 1853, I had opportunities in Berlin of obser^-ing on a 
large scale the luminosity of the snow. With a grey and uni- 
formly clouded sky, it was quite clear that the roofs of the 
houses stood out distinctly from the background. In order to 
exclude the possible effect of the lighting of the streets, I re- 
paired to Schoneberg, where, about 9 p.m., the (proportionately 
great) relative brightness of the snow, both on the roofs and 
surface of the ground, was very distinctly seen. Throughout 
the winter, however, the appearance was comparatively rare, and 
by no means presented itself on every dark and cloudy night. 
A sudden overclouding, following rapidly on an active ^ insola^ 
tion, or intense cold in the night, freezing the water with which 
the snow has been satiu-ated during the day, appears to be par- 
ticularly favourable to its development. On the other hand, I 
never observed the luminosity when a fall of snow had taken 
place shortly before nightfall, although fresh snow is always in- 
trinsically whiter than that which has been exposed for some 
days to atmospheric influences. 

" The relative luminosity of the snow was never very consider- 
able ; and though sufficiently so, indeed, as has been said, to be 
clearly perceptible, it was Hmited to such surfaces as were di- 
rectly bounded by the sky." 

^ From the above passages, it will be seen how remarkable, both 
in extent and intensity, was the phenomenon witnessed by me on 
the night of June 17th. 



London Lonorrum, <£• Co. 





! I 


By R. W. Elliot Forster. 

Sonnenberg— The Uri Eothstock—Engelberg— A Thunderstorm — The 
Stein Glacier — The Thierberg — The Triften Joch — The Glacier of 
the Rhone. 

It is rather the fashion now-a-days to believe nothing. 
Now I, on the contrary, believe a good deal ; — I believe 
that Homer and Julius Caesar both lived ; I believe in 
William Tell; all the learned arguments of Archbishop 
Whately have failed to convince me that an emperor of 
the name of Napoleon did not reign over the French in 
the beginning of this century ; and I likewise believe in 
Walter Fiirst, Werner Stauffacher, and Arnold von Melch- 
thal. Considering, however, the great historical infidelity 
which at present prevails, it is refreshing to find that a 
far different spirit animates the Helvetian youth. 

The field and wood on the Lake of Lucerne, known as the 
Griitli, or Kutli, have recently been purchased, chiefly by 
means of a subscription raised in the Swiss schools ; the 
ground has been prettily laid out under the auspices of 
the Government ; and the authorities, with great good taste, 
have stopped the erection of a place of entertainment, which 
a speculative Swiss hotel-keeper was building, and which 
would have had the effect of turning the hallowed shrine 
into a tea-garden. It would scarcely be possible to 
perpetuate a testimony to the existence of the three great 






founders of Swiss liberty in a more effectual or more 
graceful manner than by preserving intact the spot where 
those heroes first swore to rescue their native land from 
foreign thraldom. 

Early in the month of August, 1861, I landed at the 
Griitli from Brunnen, on my way to the new pension at 
Sonnenberg, on the Seelisberg, where I intended passing 
a few days to get myself into training for a walking tour. 
The most desirable of these Swiss boarding-houses ap- 
pear to be little known to the majority of British tourists ; 
and, although I should be extremely sorry to introduce 
Brown, Jones, and Robinson to all my mountain haunts, 
I think that it is only Christian charity to inform the 
hundreds who annually melt in the broiling sun of 
Geneva, Vevay, Interlaken, and Lucerne, that there are 
such places as Champery and Comballaz in the west, and 
Sonnenberg, Engstlen, and the Frohnalp in the centre of 
Switzerland, where, in addition to being housed and fed, 
they can freely breathe. 

On Sonnenberg I had now especially fixed my eye ; and, 
not having been well for some time, I began operations by 
running up, in half an hour, a somewhat precipitous path, 
said to be the very path by which Arnold von Melchthal 
was in the habit of reaching the Griitli from his home in 
Unterwalden, and which most persons usually take an hour 
to ascend, and sometimes, as appears from the stage di- 
rections in Schiller's " Wilhelm Tell," by the aid of a ladder. 

The day was hot, and the effect was pretty much the 
same as that produced by the first part of a Turkish bath. 
Finding a delightful little lake — the Seelisberger See, — not 
far from the pension, I jumped into it and performed part 
two, and then completed the course by lying down in the 
sun to warm myself. I derived so much benefit from the 
process that I repeated it, and in four days I was ready 



for anything. I ought, however, to add, that in all proba- 
bility the good fare at Sonnenberg, and the pure mountain 
air that is inhaled at every breath, contributed not a little 
to perfect the cure. I can recommend the establishment 
of M. Truttmann, who is a member of the Cantonal 
Government of Uri, to English travellers. They will find 
there o-ood accommodation at a very moderate rate, amidst 
scenery of great beauty. The house is perched on a rock 
immediately over the Griitli, and commands a lovely view 
of the Lake of Lucerne, into which a stone might almost 
be thrown from one's bed-room window, but, at the same 
time, it is sufficiently high up not to be affected by the 
damp air which often pervades the banks of the lake after 
sunset. The excursions to be made in the neighbourhood 
are numerous, and not difficult. Two or three of the walks, 
as a retired Indian officer told me with great delight, are 
<^ on the flat;" and some of my fair readers, if I am for- 
tunate enough to have any, will be glad to hear that they 
will find grasses and ferns without end, to say nothing of 
cyclamens and other Alpine flowers, and they may repose 
themselves under the shade of maple, ash, lime, beech, or 
walnut trees, without fear of being molested. 

I could have remained there with pleasure for a fort- 
night, and might possibly have done so, had not the Uri- 
Rothstock, whose proud summit I saw every morning from 
my window, constantly reminded me that I had once 
vowed (it is unnecessary to state under what circum- 
stances) to walk to Engelberg from Isenthal, going over 
its highest peak en route, and thence to proceed to the 
Grimsel by the glacier of Trift. The weather was 
magnificent, and the time seemed now to have arrived for 
fulfilling my vow ; so I bade farewell to M. Truttmann on 
Monday, the 12th of August, and started for the valley of 
the Isen. 






It is a charming walk from Sonnenberg to Bauen on the 
Lake of Lucerne, whence it took me about two hours and 
a half to reach the Adler, at Isenthal, at which nice, clean, 
primitive little inn I put up for two nights. The landlord, 
Joseph Imfanger, a well-known chamois hunter, who 
afterwards acted as my guide to the Uri-Rothstock, and 
who, now that his father is nearly superannuated, is the 
only man in the place who can be relied on in difficult 
expeditions, was from home when I arrived ; but I received 
every attention from the hostess, and from the veteran 
old Carl Imfanger, her father-in-law, who related a number 
of sporting anecdotes which had occurred, or which he 
stated had occun-ed, « in the days when he was young." 
I was also very much patronised by the daughter of the 
hostess, a young lady of four years of age, who lionised me 
about whilst her mother was preparing my supper ; and, 
amongst other things, she showed me the paws of an enor- 
mous bear, which had been shot by her father a few days 
previously, and which were hung up at the entrance of 
the village as a trophy. 

The 13th of August, 1861, was a memorable day for 
Isenthal, — a large armed force passed through it in full 
marching order, carrying all the means and appliances 
that modem science has devised to gain a battle, as 
well as to alleviate the consequences of a defeat; the 
former — the rifles, the cannons, the powder and other am- 
munition — greatly stimulated my Volunteer ardour ; but I 
confess that when I surveyed the latter — the lint, the am- 
bulance, the knife, the saw, and other agreeable-looking 
surgical instruments — it rather took the edge off my 
martial appetite. Two hundred men actually encamped 
in the village, and a precious noise they made. I had 
retired to bed early, as I was to start at 2 o'clock the next 
morning for Engelberg, and I was desirous of getting a 



few hours' sleep; but this I soon found was utterly impos- 
sible, so I resigned myself to the serenade which the band 
kept' up under my windows until past 11, and at 1 

o'clock I got up. 

There are two routes by which the Uri-Rothstock can 
be approached from Isenthal -the one by the Higher 
Valley, known as the « Gross-Thai," which lies rather to 
the westward, and the other by the " Klein-Thai," which 
is immediately opposite the village, and ascends in a 
direct line from N. to S. I was strongly advised to go by 
the Gross-Thai ; I was told that it was much easier — that 
it was ganz bequem ; and, when all other arguments had 
appeared to fail in making any impression on me, I was 
informed by my hostess that a bishop had once been that 
way ' This clenched the matter : I said that I should not 
presume to walk in the footsteps of the prelate, and that 
the Klein-Thai was the road for me ; and accordingly 
by the Klein-Thai I went. I rather suspect that the 
military had not limited their jollification to listening to 
their band, that they had indulged in something more 
excitinc. than music, and that the host had kept them 
company; so I was not at all sorry when the latter told 
me just as we were about to start, that he would take his 
stable-boy to carry my knapsack, and that he himself 
would carry the provisions. It is only just, however, to 
mention, that they did not require or expect any ad- 
ditional remuneration for this, and that when, on paxtmg, 
I gave the boy two francs for THnkgeld, both he and his 
master appeared to be pleased and surprised. My agree- 
ment with Imfanger had been, to give him twenty francs 
if I took him on to Engelberg, and ten francs if I sent 
him back from the Uri-Rothstock, which was what I in- 
tended doing, unless the weather turned out badly. At 
2.10 A.M. we started. It was not very daik, and we de- 






termined not to take a lantern, which, perhaps, was rather 
imprudent. In the woods we took off our coats, and could 
distinguish each other by means of our light-coloured shirt- 
sleeves, and, bai'ringthe chance of being shot by the sentinels 
on leaving the village, and that of being drowned in one or 
two torrents into which we were nearly precipitated, we 
did not incur much danger from the want of light. 

After walking up the Klein-Thai for two hours and a half 
over grass and through a forest, we came to a steep wall of 
stratified limestone, which forms the northern boundary of 
a field of ice and snow extending from the Gfutschen, or 
Gitschen, to the Uri-Rothstock ; down this wall, or screen, 
trickles the water from the melting of the snows above, so 
that the footing is not very good, and we were often 
obliged to pull ourselves up with our hands along the 
shelvinsr rock on our rio:ht. Under this rock we sat for 
some time watching the rising sun, as it tinted in succes- 
sion with a rosy hue the different peaks around us. Soft 
and beautiful as is a fine autumn sunset, in a mountainous 
country I prefer the effect of sunrise, as in the morning 
the atmosphere is so much clearer, and the outlines are so 
much sharper, than is the case after the mid-day sun has 
called forth the vapours from the valleys beneath. It was 
just 6 A.M. when we left the rock and took to the snow. 
Here, of course, the rope was produced, and we proceeded 
in single file, Imfanger being first, and I coming next; 
the boy, who followed me, held the rope in his hand, but 
he preferred not being tied. Many persons fancy that 
they are safer when the rope is not tied around them ; but 
on snow this is a great mistake, for it is of immense 
advantage to have both your hands at liberty, and if you 
fall into a crevasse you are very likely to lose your hold 
of the rope at the moment you most want it. The boy 
was a mere volunteer, so I let him do as he liked ; but I 

seldom allow a regular guide to keep the rope in his hand. 
If my host had at any time felt the effects of the potations 
of the night before, the sharp, keen air of the glacier had 
now entirely brought him round, and his ear caught the 
distant whistle of the chamois as rapidly as his eye dis- 
tinguished the treacherous snow that covered the berg- 
schrnnd. We had a large plateau of neve before us, 
which we were obliged to ascend almost as far as the 
Geisshornli, a peak immediately in our front, although 
our course eventually lay much more to the right; as a 
wall of ice, several hundred feet in height and nearly per- 
pendicular, separated us from the glacier which descends 
from the eastern shoulder of the Uri-Rothstock, and which 
it was necessary for us to cross in order to reach the 
desired summit. We ran along for some time under 
this ice-wall ; but, before we had gone far, we had the 
clearest possible notice that it would be safer to keep 
more out in the centre of the neve, as we came upon 
the remains of an avalanche which had only recently 
fallen, and the blocks of ice, some of which weighed more 
than a hundredweight, and which, falling on snow, had 
not been ground to powder, as is frequently the case, did 
not look at all inviting. Nearly all these pieces of ice 
were angular, and many of them were square, and about 
the shape and size of an ordinary Paris paving-stone. 
Towards the middle of the plateau we found some large 
crevasses, which extended from E. to W. for a considerable 
distance, and which might have delayed us a good deal ; 
but the snow was firm, and we generally could jump them 
without making any great circuit. On one occasion, how- 
ever, the edge gave way with the boy, and from the tug he 
gave the rope I think he must have been glad to have 
had a good hold of it. 

We proceeded to within a few hundred yards of the 


M 7 



Greisshomli, when we turned to the westward, and keeping 
the Uri-Rothstock rather on our right, we crossed a low 
ridge of rock, and found ourselves at the very foot of the 

This cone, which it took us about fifteen minutes to get 
up, is the highest point of the Uri-Eothstock, which forms 
so prominent an object in most of the views from the Lake 
of Lucerne. The top, chiefly composed of a reddish kind of 
limestone, is seldom entirely covered with snow ; indeed, on 
two sides, the north and the east, no snow could lie, as 
the rock is there almost perpendicular. The cone can only 
be ascended from the S. ; but on that side there is no diffi- 
culty whatever : the incline is very gradual, and there are 
a number of small flat stones, as well as shaly matter, 
which make it easy going. 

It was just 8 A.M. when we reached the summit, and 
we were quite ready for our morning meal. Ham, veal, 
chicken, were successively tried, and highly approved of, 
and we had just finished a bottle of Roussillon, when I 
perceived, what I at first thought must be some stray 
goats, ascending the W. side of the mountain. One glance 
with the telescope, however, soon showed that no goats 
could live on such a spot ; and in a few minutes I reported 
to my companions that fourteen chamois were coming up 
the cone. English deer-stalkers can easily understand 
the excitement of the party ; no one uttered a sound, but 
an impotent lament at not having a rifle was the idea that 
simultaneously rushed to the mind of each. The chamois 
were coming down wind, and had evidently not discovered 
us ; for the sense of smell is so acute in the chamois, that 
it depends almost as much on scent, as on its bright black 
eye, to escape from its great enemy, man.* On they came 

* It is confidently asserted that chamois can scent a man at a distance 
of more than a mile, and that it frequently happens that a whole herd will 



in a close, compact body, a fine old male, with a white 
throat and forehead and splendid horns, leading the way, 
until they were within 200 yards of the spot on which we 
were standing. As far as we could judge, there were only 
three or four males; as, however, the females have horns, 
it is very difficult to distinguish the one from the other. 
The coat of the leader was almost black, and I could per- 
fectly see the dark band that encircled his forehead and 
cheeks, as for an instant he looked up and surveyed us with 
unfeigned astonishment. Of course his gaze lasted but for 
an instant, and then, followed by the rest, he dashed along a 
narrow ridge on the north side of the mountain, which was 
apparently only a few inches in width. We were imme- 
diately above this ledge, and we threw one of our wine 
bottles into the midst of the herd, at the same time giving 
such a vietV'halloo as I should think had not often re- 
sounded in these regions. The chamois did not lose their 
footing ; but their consternation was so great that, like a 
panic-^'struck army, they no longer obeyed nor understood 
the commands of their chief, and they were scattered in 
every direction, several of them again coming within rifle- 
shot of us. We watched them for a long time, and as two 
of them crossed at full speed the snow-fields we had just 
come over, I had an opportunity of forming some estimate 
of the pace at which they went. I should say that they did 
a mile in something less than three minutes ; but as one of 
them, a male, stopped once or twice, for a few seconds, in 
order to call some of his terrified, or faithless, wives (I 
know not which), I am inclined to put down their pace a^ 
at the rate of twenty-five miles an hour. This chamois, 
rec^ardless of the example shovm him by the present Sultan, 

ci-oss a mountain ridge to avoid a party of hunters whom they have neither 
seen nor heard. 

VOL. II. ^ 



did not seem inclined to reduce the ladies of his hareem 
to so low a number as one; and having arrived at the 
centre of the glacier he came to a halt, called, or rather 
whistled, louder than before, stamped his feet, and even 
retraced his steps for a short distance, with an air which 
implied, that some one would suffer for it if he were not 
instantly obeyed. In a little while three females left